PARIS (AFP) - St Etienne went top of the French first division for the first time in 29 years on Saturday after a 3-0 win over Montpellier.
The win maintained their unbeaten start to the season and allowed them to nip ahead of previous leaders Toulouse, who drew 0-0 at Monaco, on goal difference.
Dimitri Payet grabbed two of the goals to take his season's tally to six.
He opened the scoring in the 21st minute after taking the ball around defender Abdelhamid El Kaoutari and goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourden.
He added the third in the 65th minute after reacting quickest to a free-kick which had come back off a post.
In between, Emmanuel Riviere grabbed the second by heading in a left wing cross from Bakary Sako which had been badly misjudged by El Kaoutari.
The victory also set up St Etienne for their eagerly-awaited derby clash with Lyon next weekend.
That will be the teams' 100th meeting with the Greens not having won since 1993.
St Etienne coach Christophe Galtier refused to get carried away with his team's fine start, wary of how they flirted with relegation last season.
"For us the objective it to get 42 points as quickly as possible and today we already have 13," he said.
"Things can change very quickly in football. Our rivals are not the likes of Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux. It is the 12 or 13 teams who are just looking for the best finish in order to stay in Ligue 1."
Defending champions Marseille recovered from their midweek 1-0 defeat to Spartak Moscow in the Champions League to hand promoted Arles-Avignon their sixth defeat in six games this season.
Marseille moved up to seventh in the table with a 3-0 win in which Benoit Cheyrou opened the scoring before former Arles player, Ghana star Andrew Ayew picked up a brace.
Sochaux were the night's biggest winners seeing off Nice 4-0 to move into fifth spot with Ideye Brown, Ryad Boudebouz, Marvin Martin and Modibo Maiga all on target in the second half.
Caen are fourth after a 1-0 away win against Lorient with Youssef El Arabi scoring for the fourth time this season.
|26||M. Bayal Sall|
|7||D. Payet||21' 67'|
|Coach: C. Galtier|
for B. Sako 73'
for L. Perrin 76'
for D. Payet 87'
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