Sunday, September 18, 2016

18 September 2010 - Saint-Étienne's Brief Return To Glory

On 18 September 2010, Saint-Étienne, Ligue 1's most successful club, returned to the top of the table for the first time in 29 years. Unfortunately for them, their stay at the summit was short.

Founded in 1919, Saint-Étienne won their first Ligue 1 title in 1957, then dominated the league through the '60s and '70s, winning another eight titles between 1964 and 1976, as well as reaching the European Cup final in 1976. They claimed their tenth and last title in 1981, which remains a Ligue 1 record. Then, aided by scandals and financial woes, the club spent the next couple of decades struggling to recapture their past glory and even suffered a few relegations into the second division (though never for very long).

In the 2009-10 season, they limped to a 17th-place finish in Ligue 1, never rising higher than 12th in the table. But they got off to a strong start the following season with three wins and a draw out of their first five matches and climb to the league's third position.

Matchday 6 saw them host Montpellier, who were sitting one spot back in fourth at the time. Saint-Étienne winger Dimitri Payet (pictured, center) opened the scoring in the 21st minute by splitting two defenders and powering the ball into the lower right corner. Striker Emmanuel Rivière doubled the lead with a 32nd-minute header and Payet finished the day with a 66th-minute free kick off the left upright.

The 3-0 victory put Les Verts into the top spot thanks to a better goal differential than Toulouse, whose draw on the same day saw them slip to second. They stayed at the top for only three weeks, however, and finished the season in 10th.

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