Saint-Etienne 3-0 Guingamp

AS Saint-Etienne struck three times after the break to beat En Avant Guingamp 3-0 on Sunday and move to the cusp of the top three.

Fresh from their qualification for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League, Christophe Galtier’s men made light of their long return trip back from Norway by getting stronger the longer the match went on.

Romain Hamouma (52′), Valentin Esseyric (87′ pen.) and Nolan Roux (90′) all found the net for the hosts, who also had Moustapha Sall sent off for a second bookable offence two minutes from time.

The result leaves them in fourth, a point behind Angers SCO in second and level on goal difference with arch-rivals Olympique Lyonnais in third ahead of the remainder of the Week 15 matches.

Hamouma would have given Saint-Etienne an early lead only for Jonas Lössl in the Guingamp goal to brilliantly turn aside his effort after Kévin Monnet-Paquet’s work down the flank had given his team-mate a shooting opportunity.

The promising Marcus Coco and veteran Jimmy Briand both had chances to put Guingamp in front before the break, and Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men were left to rue their profligacy early in the second half.

Superb save

After Esseyric had picked out Neal Maupay, there was a touch of fortune when the challenge on the young striker saw the ball ricochet to Hamouma, but there was nothing lucky about his assured finish, the former SM Caen man rounding Lössl before slotting home.

Briand provided an almost instant response, but was thwarted by Stéphane Ruffier before Lössl stopped Monnet-Paquet’s angled drive at the opposite end in the space of 60 frantic seconds at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

The sides exchanged chances again later when Roux’s glancing header was superbly turned away by Lössl and then Briand failed to hit the target soon after when well-placed.

An ill-timed challenge by Dorian Lévêque on Hamouma gave Esseyric the opportunity to send Lössl the wrong way from the spot, and after Sall’s dismissal, Monnet-Paquet and Esseyric combined to allow Roux to deliver the coup de grâce with an assured sidefoot finish.