Saint-Etienne beats Marseille to go top of French league

Saint Etienne's Romain Hamouna (R) celebrates with teammate Yvann Macon after scoring the opening goal during the soccer Ligue 1 match between Olympique Marseille and Saint Etienne at Orange Velodrome stadium, Marseille, France Sept. 17, 2020. (Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA)

PARIS — After the emotional high of getting a first win against bitter rival Paris Saint-Germain in nine years, Marseille was given a reality check on Thursday.

Marseille lost 2-0 at home against Saint-Etienne, missing a chance to go top of the league.

Instead it’s Saint-Etienne leading after securing a third straight win thanks to goals from winger Romain Hamouma in the sixth minute and forward Denis Bouanga in the 75th.

Substitute Marley Ake hit the crossbar and midfielder Morgan Sanson fluffed a chance as Marseille missed chances early in the second half.

Marseille beat PSG 1-0 in Paris last Sunday in a game that saw five players sent off in injury time as tempers flared.

While PSG has dominated French football lately, Marseille and Saint-Etienne are the country’s two most successful sides historically with 10 league titles each.

Despite battling against relegation last season, clashing with long-serving goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier and offloading senior players, Saint-Etienne is off to an unexpectedly good start to the new campaign under coach Claude Puel.

It is the only team with a perfect record after three rounds.

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