CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Monday, April 18, 2011
Carlos Bocanegra and Saint Etienne overcame an early deficit to down visiting Nancy while Quentin Westberg watched from the bench for Evian in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 action in France.
AS St. Etienne 2 – 1 AS Nancy Lorraine
Nancy defender Andre Luiz surprised the hosts with a first-half goal to think about, but Dimitri Payet sparked a comeback with two second-half goals to claim three important points for Les Verts.
American Carlos Bocanegra posted 90 minutes of action in the St. Etienne backline.
Tahiti-native Marama Vahirua set up the opening goal after 40 minutes spearing in a free kick from the left side that Luiz, already a step ahead of Bocanegra, nodded forward from close range for the lead.
Nancy continued their pressure in the second half with several looks on goal, including a powerful left-footer from Jonathan Brison in front of the net that required a diving save from Jérémie Janot.
Looking like they had the game under control, Nancy suddenly coughed up possession in their own half in the 56th minute, leaving Alejandro Alonso with room to find Payet at the left corner of the goal box. The Frenchman made no mistake in lifting his shot past Damien Gregorini for the equalizer.
His second of the evening came in the 64th minute after leading the attack and finding Pierre Emerick Aubameyang on the flank for a delivery into the box. Although at first cleared, Payet caught up with the loose ball for a blazing volley through traffic from 12 yards out to give the hosts the one goal lead.
The 24-year-old had opened the Ligue 1 season with eight goals in nine games, but then entered a 13-game scoring drought. The Frenchman has found him form again having hit the back of the net four times in the last five outings.
Jérémie Janot preserved the win in the 84th minute with a diving save of a blistering 25-yard free kick from Julien Feret.
Wth the victory St. Etienne inch up the standings into sixth with 44 points, and look to continue their advance at Girondins de Bordeaux on Sunday.
Quentin Westberg sat in reserve for first place Evian TG FC as they squeaked by a 3-2 win over FC Istres in stoppage time.