Dimitri Payet and Ilan both registered superb long-range efforts as AS Saint-Etienne rounded off their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie against Greek titleholders Olympiacos CFP in impressive style.
Having brought about an abrupt end to Olympiacos's run of 16 home wins in all competitions this season with a 3-1 success in last week's first leg, St-Etienne continued to confound their domestic travails with another eye-catching performance back at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Payet broke the deadlock on the cusp of half-time with a sumptuous, dipping right-footed effort and Ilan, a goalscorer in Greece, was not to be outdone as he struck a similarly spectacular effort before the hour. To their credit, Olympiacos responded and Óscar González made it 5-2 on aggregate but it is Les Verts who will meet Werder Bremen in the last 16.
St-Etienne are languishing third from bottom in Ligue 1 yet they are a different proposition in the UEFA Cup, and the ease with which they negotiated what could have been a tricky opening period will bring hope to their survival chances. Despite their attacking intent, all the Greek visitors had to show for their efforts as half-time approached was a Sebastian Leto cross-shot that fizzed past the upright. And their task became harder before half-time when Payet was given time and space on the edge of the area to unleash an effort that arrowed into the top-right corner.
The goal could not have come at a worse time for the visitors and although they began the second period positively, they were hit by another sucker punch on 58 minutes when Ilan drilled a right-footed effort into the top corner from 20 metres. Olympiacos conjured up a classy strike of their own when Óscar González broke clear with 15 minutes left and unleashed a venomous long-range effort which crashed in off the post but it was too little, too late.