Olympique de Marseille extended their near-40-year jinx over AS Saint-Etienne as Valère Germain scored twice in a 2-0 win on Sunday.
Olympique de Marseille 3-0 AS Saint-Etienne
Saint-Etienne had not won a league game in Marseille since August 1979, and the visitors, winless in a worrying seven matches before kick-off, rarely threatened to end that miserable streak.
Their fragile self-belief was dealt another blow early on. Dimitri Payet’s corner from the left found Florian Thauvin at the near post, and his flick to the far post found Germain unmarked. The summer arrival from AS Monaco gleefully snapped up his first league strike for his new club (11′).
Stéphane Ruffier’s reflexes kept out a close-range Payet header (15′) before Loïs Diony, himself without a league goal for his new club since his summer move from Dijon FCO, failed to take a good opportunity (20′).
The same was true of Morgan Sanson at the opposite end shortly afterwards (23′), and Ruffier again pulled off a superb save from a bullet Germain header (26′) as OM threatened to kill the game inside half-an-hour.
Saint-Etienne held out until early in the second half, but the red card shown to Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel when he hauled back Sanson (51′) meant they were simply delaying the inevitable.
Germain headed against a post (63′) and Thauvin smashed a shot against the woodwork (70′) before Germain finally doubled the hosts’ advantage, slotting home from close range after good work from Thauvin (71′).
Lucas Ocampos added the third for insurance ten minutes from time (80′) and but for Ruffier the Argentine would have scored again (83′) as Marseille moved level on points with Olympique Lyonnais and AS Monaco ahead of them, the trio all nine points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
THE PLAYER: Valère Germain
It can’t have been easy for the summer signing to have struggled to find the net, and getting off the mark will have been a massive relief. The Ligue 1 Conforama champion proved his quality and also showed boss Rudi Garcia he remains a viable alternative to Kostas Mitroglou.
THE STAT: 35
OM have 35 points after 17 games, the highest-ever tally for a club in fourth place at this stage of a season.