French Ligue One Roundup, Sep. 18
Saint-Etienne moved into first place in the French league for the first time in more than 28 years after a double from Dimitri Payet and Emmanuel Riviere's goal gave the club a 3-0 win over Montpellier on Saturday.
Payet, the league's top scorer with six goals, opened Saint-Etienne's account from close range after being set up by Riviere in the 21st minute.
Riviere made the most of Abdelhamid El-Kaoutari's poor defending to beat goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren with a header from Bakary Sako's cross in the 32nd.
Payet then curled a free kick from 25 meters into the top right corner in the 66th.
Saint-Etienne moved to 13 points with four wins from six games and grabbed the lead from Toulouse while Montpellier slumped to a second consecutive loss.
Toulouse, which was held to a scoreless draw at unbeaten Monaco, also has 13 points but Saint-Etienne stands first due to a better attacking record.
A former French powerhouse, Saint-Etienne is enjoying its best start in the league since the 1980-81 season, when the club won the last of its record 10 titles. After an opening defeat at Paris Saint-Germain, Christophe Galtier's team has taken 13 points from a possible 15.
It is the first time Saint-Etienne leads the French league since Feb. 20, 1982.
"Our goal is to get 42 points as quickly as possible and today I'm happy that we already have 13," Saint-Etienne president Roland Romeyer said. "We are enjoying this win but after all the suffering we endured over the past two seasons we don't get carried away. We need to be patient."
Andre Ayew scored a brace as defending champion Marseille claimed a much-needed 3-0 win at last-place Arles.
Benoit Cheyrou gave Marseille the lead in the 32nd minute with a direct free kick from 30 meters after goalkeeper Vincent Plante misjudged the trajectory of the ball.
Against his former club, Ayew coolly slotted home four minutes later to conclude a nice collective move and score from the rebound after Plante failed to hold on to Andre-Pierre Gignac's strike in the 54th.
Marseille had taken only five points from his first five games and also lost to Spartak Moscow this week in the Champions League.
Also on Saturday, it was: Lorient 0, Caen 1; Nancy 0, Brest 2; Sochaux 4, Nice 0 and Valenciennes 1, Lens 1.
In a match of few chances, Toulouse had three good opportunities to score in the last 15 minutes but Monaco goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier stopped a header on his line in the 74th and made two other fine saves to keep out Federico Santander and Moussa Sissoko.
Showing great attacking flair, Sochaux ended Nice's 11-game unbeaten run with goals from Ideye Brown, Ryad Boudebouz, Marvin Martin and Modibo Maiga.
Caen moved up to fourth overall with 11 points after Youssef El-Arabi scored against the run of the play in the 41st.
Bordeaux hosts Lyon in a match pitting two former champions closer to the relegation zone than the top on Sunday.
Bordeaux and Lyon, which signed France playmaker Yoann Gourcuff from Bordeaux, are languishing in the bottom half of the standings.
Lille hosts Auxerre and Rennes has a chance to move into first place when it travels at Paris Saint-Germain in Sunday's other games.