Saint-Etienne stay top of Ligue 1 with victory over Lyon
Saint-Etienne's Dimitri Payet drove home a perfect free-kick for a 1-0 win over Lyon on Saturday, keeping the green-clad team at the top of Ligue 1 and drawing out Lyon's poor start to the season.
AFP - Dimitri Payet scored the winning goal and cleared two shots off the line as Saint-Etienne earned a 1-0 win at local rivals Lyon on Saturday to pile the pressure on OL coach Claude Puel.
Payet curled home an inch-perfect free-kick in the 75th minute after Saint-Etienne had weathered sustained pressure from their hosts, who were denied by the frame of the goal on three occasions.
"We expected them to play a great game and we weren't wrong," said Payet, whose team had not beaten Lyon since April 1994.
"We had a bit of luck and we managed to capitalise on it."
Victory in a full-blooded 100th Derby du Rhone kept Les Verts on top of Ligue 1 and prolonged Lyon's dreadful start to the season.
The seven-time French champions, who finished second last season, drop to second-bottom in the table with just one win from seven matches and Puel is now likely to face intense speculation about his future.
"It's a bit sad," said Lyon's Kim Kallstrom.
"They didn't have much apart from the free-kick. I think we deserved more."
Lyon dominated the first half and struck the woodwork for the first time in the 13th minute when Bafetimbi Gomis headed Aly Cissokho's cross against the left-hand upright.
Jeremy Toulalan then had a header cleared off the line by Payet, while Michel Bastos shot straight at visiting goalkeeper Jeremie Janot after a sweeping Lyon attack.
The Saint-Etienne goal was leading a charmed life and so it proved shortly after the hour when Lyon hit the woodwork twice in the space of two minutes.
Toulalan saw a low, 30-yard drive skid against the left-hand post and when Lyon poured forward again, Jimmy Briand thumped a header against the crossbar from Bastos's left-wing centre.
Gomis saw a volley ruled out for offside in the 73rd minute and moments later Saint-Etienne took the lead, completely against the run of play.
Kallstrom was penalised for a foul on Loic Perrin and from the resulting free-kick, Payet shaped a shot into the top-right corner that Hugo Lloris could only brush with a flailing glove.
It was Payet's seventh league goal of the season and he endeared himself even further to the visiting fans by hacking a header from Briand off the line eight minutes from time.
Rennes are a point behind Saint-Etienne after winning 2-1 at Nice, while third-placed Toulouse can go top if they beat Lille by two goals on Sunday.
Champions Marseille beat Sochaux 2-1 to record back-to-back wins for the first time in the league this season and climb to fifth.
They took the lead in fortuitous circumstances in the 19th minute when left-back Taye Taiwo's over-hit cross from the left sailed over Sochaux goalkeeper Matthieu Dreyer and inside the right-hand post.
Lucho Gonzalez doubled their advantage by volleying in a flick-on from home debutant Loic Remy, before substitute Nicolas Maurice-Belay reduced the arrears with 14 minutes to play.
"The most important thing is the result, even if we could have avoided some of the difficulties we had at the end of the match," said Marseille coach Didier Deschamps.
"We managed to create lots of chances, but we lacked the prolificacy to kill the match."
In Saturday's other matches, Bordeaux drew 0-0 at Caen, Montpellier beat rock-bottom Arles-Avignon 3-1 and Lorient earned a 2-1 win at home to Monaco thanks to an 89th-minute winner by Lynel Kitambala.
Kenyan Dennis Oliech scored the season's fastest goal when he put Auxerre ahead after 57 seconds of their 2-2 draw with Nancy.