RECAP: WEEKEND FRENCH ACTION
Carlos Bocanegra helped anchor a big win for Saint Etienne snapped a winless streak in Ligue 1 while Quentin Westberg watched Evian's draw with Clemont Foot from the bench.
AS St. Etienne 2 – 0 Brest
St. Etienne ended the losing-streak blues with a commanding victory over their neighbors in the standings, bringing them into the seventh spot in the Ligue 1 standings.
Carlos Bocanegra resumed his role in the backline and had few problems to deal with from the impotent Brest attack.
Intent upon earning points in their own Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, the Greens threatened from the get-go and saw their first look at goal on a 35-yard free kick from Laurent Batlles.
From inside the box Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang nodded forward the dangerous delivery, but Brest keeper Steeve Elana produced quick reflexes to parry it away.
The first goal for the Stephanois came in the 33rd minute after Bakary Sako crossed from the left to Alejandro Alonso at the back post. Chasing down the strong pass, the Argentine-Spaniard was clumsily tripped from behind by Brahim Ferradj, prompting whistle-blower Stéphane Lannoy to point to the spot.
Sako converted the 34th minute penalty with a confident strike into the right netting past Elana for the lead, and his sixth of the season.
In the ensuing protest, Brest coach Alex Dupont was ejected from the game although the decision looked legitimate.
Dimitri Payet entered for Les Verts at the half for Batlles, looking to end a scoring drought stretching back to last October.
Aubameyang could have doubled the lead in the 63rd minute after Alonso quickly relayed a Sako feed to the Gabon-born Frenchman. The 21-year old got a good look and shot, but Elana was able to get a hand to deflect to safety.
With two minutes remaining Payet decided to close the game off in grand fashion with a sprint through the midfield and a blast from 30 yards, which Elana got a touch on but still had to pick up out of his own net.
The win leaves St. Etienne in safe territory in seventh, but still a distant ten points from Europe-bound competition. Next Saturday, they return on the road to Brittany to face FC Lorient.
Backup keeper Quentin Westberg watched his Evian teammates draw against Clermont Foot, maintaining their lead in the Ligue 2 standings with eleven games to go.