Paris: Romain Hamouma’s second-half goal sent St Etienne to the summit of Ligue 1 on Friday after a deserved 1-0 home win over Valenciennes.
In a game featuring the top two attacking teams in the French league, Les Verts were made to wait until the 73rd minute to break the deadlock, with Hamouma collecting a pass from Renaud Cohade to fire a cross shot past Nicolas Penneteau.
St Etienne, who are on an 11-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, carved out the better first-half chances, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang denied by Penneteau before Brandao’s header shaved the post.
The hosts kept on pressing in the second half and were rewarded when second-half substitute Hamouma coolly slotted home after Cohade had kept his composure in the box to set him up.
Hamouma came close to doubling the lead a few minutes later but his shot went just past Penneteau’s post.
Valenciennes, who boast the best attack in the league with 27 goals, were kept scoreless for the first time in 10 games and were denied a possible penalty in the closing stages when it appeared that Francois Clerc had handled.