Puel revival goes on as Saint-Etienne beats Nantes to go 3rd

PARIS (AP) — Resurgent Saint-Etienne twice came from behind to win 3-2 at Nantes on Sunday and move into third place in the French league under new coach Claude Puel.

Saint-Etienne has not lost since former Leicester coach Puel took charge five weeks ago with the club mired in the relegation zone, and won a hard-fought encounter with two goals from striker Denis Bouanga.

The match featured two storied French sides sharing 18 league titles — a national record 10 for Saint-Etienne — but none since Nantes was crowned champion in 2001.

After Ludovic Blas gave the home side the lead in the 15th minute, Peruvian defender Miguel Trauco leveled seven minutes later. An action-packed first half saw Imran Louza restore the lead for Nantes in the 26th after being assisted by fellow midfielder Blas, only for Trauco to set up Bouanga for a header in the 34th.

Bounga also scored the winner last weekend against Monaco, and this time latched onto playmaker Ryad Boudebouz's clever pass behind the defense in the 67th.

Puel's side is behind second-place Angers on goal difference, with both teams trailing nine points behind league leader Paris Saint-Germain.

Later Sunday, nine-time champion Marseille could move into second place with a home win against seven-time champion Lyon — which has won the past five league meetings between them.

OTHER MATCHES

Striker Gaetan Laborde grabbed his first goal of the season as Montpellier beat struggling Toulouse 3-0 to climb into fifth place, with the home side's other goals coming from midfielders Damien Le Tallec and Teji Savanier.

Rennes moved up to 10th place with a 3-1 home win against Amiens, which took the lead in the 35th minute through striker Serhou Guirassy.

Midfielder Adrien Hunou equalized four minutes later and striker Mbaye Niang put the Brittany-based side ahead in the 62nd before Brazilian forward Raphinha added a late penalty.

Defending champion PSG won 2-1 away to Brest on Saturday in a scrappy performance.

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