Hazard brace sees Lille sink Saint-Etienne
Eden Hazard scored twice as Lille came from behind to see off ten-man Saint-Etienne 3-1 tonight.
David Rozenhal's own goal gave the home side an early lead, but the dismissal of Loris Nery allowed Lille a way back into the match. And the defending Ligue 1 champions took full advantage with Hazard's brace followed by a late strike from Ludovic Obraniak.
Both sides came into the match level on points, but it was Saint-Etienne who made the breakthrough after just seven minutes. Fabian Lemoine's low cross into the box was meant for team-mate Idriss Saadi, but although Rozenhal got their first he could only turn the ball into his own net.
Another goal looked on the cards ten minutes later when Laurent Batlles' corner picked out Paulao, but the Brazilian defender put his header narrowly wide. Things were looking good for Saint-Etienne at this stage, but it began to go wrong ten minutes before the interval when Nery's ugly tackle from behind on Franck Beria resulted in a red card.
Lille were immediately on the attack and home goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier was called upon to palm away a threatening volley from Moussa Sow. An equaliser arrived ten minutes after the interval thanks to a moment of brilliance from Hazard.
The Belgian midfielder latched onto a headed assist from Florent Balmont before carving a path through the Saint-Etienne defence and applying a cool finish with his right foot into the bottom right corner.
Hazard then fired Lille in front after 73 minutes, angling a left-footed shot from inside the area under the crossbar and beyond the helpless Ruffier. Saint-Etienne were not yet out of the game and they should have been back on level terms nine minutes from time but Bakary Sako's free-kick came back off the right post.
Lille made them pay four minutes time with a goal which was set up by new signing Joe Cole. The former Liverpool player, making his debut from off the bench, dribbled his way past two defenders and then provided the perfect cross for Obraniak to tap home from close range.