St Etienne stay fourth
Last Updated: 04/05/14 3:50pm
Mevlut Erdinc celebrates after netting St Etienne's second goal
St Etienne strengthened their grip on fourth place in Ligue 1 and a shot at European football next season with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Montpellier.
Goals by Romain Hamouma and Mevlut Erding early in the second half proved sufficient for St Etienne to temporarily move five points clear of nearest challengers Lyon, who play later on Sunday.
Defeat for Montpellier means they are still not completely safe from relegation, although with 42 points the 2012 champions should have enough in the bank to stay up and indeed could be safe if results later on Sunday go in their favour.
The hosts were riding a six-match unbeaten run heading into this match and looked full of confidence in the early going, with Benjamin Corgnet and Hamouma close to making the breakthrough inside 15 minutes.
Montpellier contributed little in a dismal opening period and it came as little surprise when Rolland Courbis' men fell behind to a stunning effort in the 47th minute.
Moustapha Bayal Sall's long hoof from his own half was latched onto by Hamouma, who took aim from 25 yards with an bullet strike that fizzed into the top-right corner.
The hosts deservedly doubled their lead on 57 minutes as Max Gradel's free-kick defected off the wall and into the path of Erding who had a simple task to convert.
Montpellier flickered briefly into life at the death when M'Baye Niang picked up the ball inside the box, turned his man and fired a powerful drive at goal but it flew narrowly wide of the upright.
French Ligue 1
|3||Paris St Germain||22||44|
|16||Evian Thonon Gaillar||22||23|