St Etienne sink Lille
Last Updated: 17/01/14 10:44pm
St Etienne celebrate against Lille
St Etienne strengthened their Champions League challenge with a 2-0 win at home to top-three rivals Lille on Friday night.
Brandao and Franck Tabanou breached the meanest defence in Ligue 1 in the second half to move the hosts just two points behind their third-placed opponents.
Lille finished the match with 10 men as Florent Balmont was sent off for apparent dissent in the 63rd minute in the wake of the second goal.
St Etienne have now taken 13 points from a possible 15, but Lille's title hopes appear to be disappearing fast, with this their second straight loss.
Lille had the first chance of the game in the 10th minute as Balmont's ball in found Salomon Kalou, whose powerful header brought a full-stretch save out of Stephane Ruffier.
The hosts soon started to gain a foothold, though, the influential Brandao heading just wide after getting in between defenders David Rozenhal and Pape Souare.
The Brazilian then set up Faouzi Ghoulam inside the area, but his shot was saved by Vincent Enyeama.
The Lille keeper also had to be alert on the stroke of half-time to keep out Renaud Cohade's low 25-yard effort.
But St Etienne broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half.
Brandao did brilliantly to hold the ball up amid heavy pressure and spread play wide to launch a counter-attack, and he was also on hand to finish the move, arriving at the far post to head home Ghoulam's deep cross.
Nolan Roux worked Ruffier with an effort from range as Lille sought a quick response, but they were undone again in the 62nd minute.
Enyeama punched out Brandao's shot, but Tabanou pounced on the loose ball and fired home.
And things quickly got worse for the visitors, with Balmont taking his protests over the goal too far and seeing red.
St Etienne almost grabbed a third, with Brandao bringing another save out of Enyeama, but they were more than happy with a 2-0 win.
French Ligue 1
|5||Paris St Germain||6||10|
|20||Evian Thonon Gaillar||6||1|