Rennes moves up to 2nd, plunges Saint-Etienne into crisis
SAINT-ETIENNE, France (AP) — Saint-Etienne remained stuck to the foot of the French league standings after a humiliating 5-0 rout by Rennes on Sunday that lifted the Brittany club to second place and prompted 10-time French champion Saint-Etienne to suspend its coach.
Martin Terrier led the Rennes attack with a hat trick against Claude Puel’s team, which has managed just two wins from 17 matches this season.
Saint-Etienne suspended Puel from coaching duties “until further notice” in a move likely to ease the anger of Saint-Etienne fans, who have been calling for his departure for weeks. The club did not immediately announce a replacement for Puel.
A seasoned coach with experience in France and the Premier League, Puel joined Saint-Etienne two years ago.
The emphatic result took Rennes to 11 points behind runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain, which was held to a 1-1 draw at Lens on Saturday. Rennes has a two-point lead over third-place Marseille following the southern side’s 2-1 home loss to Brest.
Terrier scored all three of his goals after assists from Croatian midfielder Lovro Majer.
“This is my first career hat trick,” Terrier said. “I am very pleased, especially because it helped the team win three points. It’s one of the most complete matches I’ve played.”
Rennes led 2-0 after 28 minutes before Saint-Etienne defender Yvann Maçon beat his own goalkeeper at the stoke of halftime. Terrier completed his hat trick three minutes into the second half with a curled 20-meter strike into the top corner and Lesley Ugochukwu sealed the result.
Many disappointed Saint-Etienne fans left Geoffroy-Guichard stadium before the end of the match amid angry chants and whistles.
Once a powerhouse of French football, Saint-Etienne dominated the league during the 1960s and ’70s, winning a record 10 league titles. The club lost its past luster in the wake of a financial scandal that rocked the club in the 1980s and is now enduring its worst start to a season since 1994.
“I have no words. Losing by such a big margin at home, it’s shameful, catastrophic,” said Saint-Etienne defender Harold Moukoudi. “We are all down. It really hurts. We have to find solutions very quickly and get our heads up. In our position, we have no choice. We can’t go on like this.”
Monaco made light work of struggling Metz, with a 4-0 victory, to post a second straight win. Forward Sofiane Diop found the net in the opening minute, with Kevin Volland, Gelson Martins and Wissam Ben Yedder adding second-half goals. It was Ben Yedder’s ninth goal this season.
Also playing on the Riviera, Nice slumped to a third consecutive home loss against Strasbourg. Goals from Ludovic Ajorque, Habib Diallo and Adrien Thomasson ensured a 3-0 win for the Alsatian club.
In Bordeaux, Lyon’s defensive frailties were again on display as the seven-time champions twice relinquished the lead to draw 2-2.
In-form Elye Wahi scored as Montpellier beat Clermont 1-0, Angers won 2-1 at Reims and Nantes ended a five-game winless run by defeating Lorient 1-0 away.