Roux shines on Lille debut
Nolan Roux bagged a brace on his Lille debut to seal a 3-0 victory for the defending champions over Saint-Etienne this evening.
Eden Hazard broke the deadlock with a 50th-minute penalty after a goalless first half at the Stade Lille-Metropole, before Roux took centre-stage in the final five minutes. The 23-year-old, who signed from Brest earlier this week, scored two goals in as many minutes to put the result beyond doubt.
The win kept third-placed Lille seven points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who won 1-0 at Brest earlier tonight, while the visitors slipped a position to eighth.
It was Les Verts who had the first sight of goal, Josuha Guilavogui forcing a decent save out of Mickael Landreau in the third minute, but the hosts got a foothold in the game as the first half wore on.
Florent Balmont raced towards goal in the sixth minute and got his shot away, but was denied by the legs of goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier. And, Ruffier was up to the challenge again ten minutes later when Balmont tried his luck again from 25 yards, and also got himself in the way of Franck Beria's volley after Hazard's corner had only been partially cleared.
Landreau too had to be on his toes two minutes before the break to keep out Banel Nicolita's 30-yard blast, before Ruffier slapped away a Benoit Pedretti cross-shot in first-half stoppage time.
The breakthrough finally arrived from the first real attack of the second half, Hazard picking himself up after being fouled by Sylvain Marchal and slotting the spot-kick past Ruffier. Not content with a one-goal lead, Lille immediately pushed forward for a second and looked close to getting it when Roux burst through on goal, but Kurt Zouma's last-ditch tackle averted the danger.
Joe Cole then unleashed a drive from the edge of the box which forced a brilliant save from Ruffier. Saint-Etienne's only sniff of an equaliser arrived midway through the second period, when Bakary Sako met Fabian Lemoine's cross on the volley, but Landreau made the save.
Two goals in the final five minutes then finally saw off the visitors, and put a gloss on the scoreline for the hosts.
First Roux poked home a rebound in the 86th minute after Ruffier had spilled Dimitri Payet's left-footed cross, and the new signing bagged his second goal for his new club just 60 seconds later when his cross-shot from Hazard's pass found its way past Ruffier.