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Lille cruise past Saint-Etienne to strengthen grip on second

Paris (AFP) – In-form Lille youngster Jonathan Bamba scored twice against former club Saint-Etienne to fire Christophe Galtier’s men to a 3-1 win which cut Paris Saint-Germain’s lead in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

The hosts, who only narrowly avoided relegation last term, are now four points clear of Saint-Etienne after applying a modicum of pressure on champions PSG, who defend their 100-percent record against Lyon on Sunday.

Bamba got Lille off to a flying start in the 17th minute, collecting Loic Remy’s lay-off before creating space for a shot which flew into the bottom corner.

Remy Cabella levelled for Saint-Etienne from the penalty spot just nine minutes later, but Bamba struck again in the opening minute of the second half.

Nicolas Pepe sent the 22-year-old racing clear, and he cut inside before curling home another unerring finish from the edge of the box.

Bamba, who left Saint-Etienne for Lille on a free transfer in the close-season, has now scored seven goals in only nine appearances for his new club.

A fourth win in five matches was wrapped up late on, as Bamba broke away from the visitors’ midfield and slipped through a pass for Pepe to fire between the legs of Les Verts goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.

Pepe, 23, has netted six goals already this term himself.

Thomas Tuchel’s PSG will be bidding to restore their eight-point advantage at the Parc des Princes on Sunday, while Monaco look to drag themselves out of the bottom three against Rennes.

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