Saint-Etienne wins 1-0 at Troyes in French league
PARIS (AP) — Saint-Etienne secured a fifth consecutive win to stay within one point of French league leader Paris Saint-Germain after beating Troyes 1-0 on Wednesday.
Thomas Ayasse’s own goal in the 13th minute gave Saint-Etienne its first win at the Stade de l’Aube since 2004, as Christophe Galtier’s side moved to second place in the standings.
PSG, which is unbeaten after seven rounds, defeated Guingamp 3-0 on Tuesday.
“Fifth win in a row, this is not bad,” Saint-Etienne defender Jonathan Brison said. “We have great momentum, the coach is rotating the squad well — bringing in fresh players when needed. The depth in our squad makes us strong.”
Galtier made seven changes to the side that beat Nantes 2-0 last weekend and Saint-Etienne, the most successful club in French football with 10 league titles, got off to a bright start, peppering Troyes’s box with crosses in the first 10 minutes.
Les Verts broke the deadlock in the 13th minute after another cross from Romain Hamouma aimed at midfielder Benjamin Corgnet was diverted by Ayasse, who beat his own keeper.
In a pulsating encounter, Troyes had two good chances to level in the second half. The first one came in the 53rd minute when Corentin Jean’s shot found the woodwork before Ayasse almost made amends for his early mistake with a header that struck the crossbar 20 minutes later.
Saint-Etienne’s bitter rival Lyon closed the gap with PSG to five points after clinching a first home win, beating 10-man Bastia 2-0 with goals from Aldo Kalulu and Corentin Tolisso.
It was Kalulu’s first start in the topflight and the teenager celebrated it with a superb goal in the 18th minute, scoring into an empty net after his subtle lob beat keeper Jean-Louis Leca.
Bastia’s hopes of coming back were dashed before the interval when Francois Kamano was sent off for elbowing Samuel Umtiti and Tolisso sealed the hosts’ win two minutes from time with a precise right-footed shot.
Rennes dropped to third place, three points behind PSG, after drawing 1-1 at Ajaccio.
After dropping two points against Lyon in a match marred by crowd trouble over the weekend, Marseille’s rocky start continued with a second consecutive 1-1 draw at Toulouse in a match where three players were sent off.
Substitute Mishy Batshuayi spared the visitors’ blushes with a powerful finish from a tight angle in the 90th minute after Martin Braithwaite had sliced open Marseille’s defense and beaten keeper Steve Mandanda from close range in the 67th minute.
Toulouse pushed hard in the final 10 minutes and unsettled Marseille’s defense but Mandanda’s superb diving save kept out Adrien Regattin’s acrobatic volley seven minutes from time.
Marseille finished with 10 men as defender Benjamin Mendy was sent off for grabbing Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro’s jersey, but the hosts paid a heavier price for their indiscipline.
Six minutes after Mendy’s dismissal, Jacques Francois Moubandje received a second yellow card, before Toulouse was reduced to nine players when Steeve Yago received a straight red card for an ugly tackle.
After seven rounds, Marseille is already nine points behind PSG.
“I’m really disappointed because we needed the three points,” Batshuayi said. “But we could not find a cutting edge.”
Elsewhere, Nice thrashed Bordeaux 6-1 and Lorient used set-pieces to beat Caen 2-0 and clinch a third straight win.
After Jaroslav Plasil put Bordeaux ahead just six minutes into the match, Willy Sagnol’s side had a nightmare evening at the Allianz-Riviera.
Valere Germain leveled with a fine header and Mickael Le Bihan gave the hosts the lead before halftime. An own goal from Nicolas Pallois, a brace from former France international Hatem Ben Arfa and Alexandre Mendy’s first goal in the topflight completed the rout.