PARIS - Alexandre Lacazette delivered a timely reminder to France coach Didier Deschamps by scoring a hat trick as Lyon beat bitter local rival Saint-Etienne 3-0 on Sunday.
The win moved Lyon above Caen and into second place in the French league, 10 points behind runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain, while Saint-Etienne dropped down to fifth spot. Deschamps overlooked the 24-year-old Lacazette when he named his squad on Thursday for upcoming friendly matches against Germany and England, saying his form was not good enough.
But Lacazette, last season's league top scorer with 27 goals, scored a brilliant first goal in the 41st minute, pounced for the second in the 59th and rounded goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier to stroke in the third in injury time. ''I didn't score in the big games last season, and that was my weakness,'' Lacazette said. ''I've done that tonight.''
Lyon moves to a new stadium next season, meaning that this was the 55th and final local derby against Saint-Etienne at Stade Gerland. But there were no visiting fans to mark the occasion as they boycotted the match in protest at their allocation of only 600 seats, which were subsequently taken by the home fans.
There were some heavy tackles early on, with Saint-Etienne's Vincent Pajot yellow-carded inside the first minute and his midfield partner Fabien Lemoine also booked moments later for a lunge on Lyon winger Mathieu Valbuena. Lyon right back Rafael, who joined in the offseason from Manchester United, joined them in the referee's book for hacking down Pajot.
There was little goal-mouth action until late in the first half, when Ruffier made a superb double save from midfielder Jordan Ferri and then Valbuena following up.
But he was powerless to prevent Lacazette's opener moments later. Scrapping for a bouncing ball on the edge of the penalty, Lacazette stretched to flick the ball with the outside of his foot, span around and then beat two defenders for pace before dinking the ball expertly over Ruffier.
He grabbed his second after Ferri and Rafael combined for a one-two and Rafael's shot was saved by Ruffier. As tempers frayed near the end, Saint-Etienne midfielder Loic Perrin bled from the mouth after Lyon defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa caught him with a flailing arm on a corner, sparking a brief melee.
After Ruffier beat away striker Claudio Beauvue's shot in the 82nd there was time for another goal as Lacazette ran onto Ferri's pass, skipped around Ruffier and finished confidently. Players from both sides sought to confront each other at the final whistle, with security officials intervening to keep them apart and Lacazette dragging Ferri away.
''Lyon deserved to win,'' Saint-Etienne midfielder Jeremy Clement. ''But we didn't act like this when we beat them 3-0 last season. It's not good, you must stay humble.''
Olympique de Marseille 0, Nice 1
Valere Germain scored the winner as Nice won 1-0 away to Marseille to move up to sixth place in the French league on Sunday.
Germain made a sharp run to latch onto a pass and burst through Marseille's center halves, before driving a low drive past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in the 16th minute. Missing key midfielder Lassana Diarra and in-form winger Romain Alessandrini, the home side struggled to contain Nice's attacks in the first half.
Winger Hatem Ben Arfa, recalled to the France squad by France coach Didier Deschamps this week, almost doubled the lead in the 35th after embarking on one of his trademark solo runs, but Mandanda thwarted him.
Later Sunday, Lyon hosted bitter rival Saint-Etienne with both sides eyeing second place, and Bordeaux faced Monaco.
Bordeaux 3, Monaco 1
Bordeaux climbed up to 11th place thanks to a 3-1 win against Monaco, thanks to goals from midfielders Nicolas Maurice-Belay and Jaroslav Plasil, either side of a goal from defender Cedric Yambere.
Earlier, striker Valere Germain scored the winner as Nice won 1-0 away to Marseille to move up to sixth place. Germain made a sharp run to latch onto a pass and burst through Marseille's center halves, before driving a low drive past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in the 16th minute.
Missing key midfielder Lassana Diarra and in-form winger Romain Alessandrini, the home side struggled. Winger Hatem Ben Arfa, recalled to the France squad this week, almost doubled the lead in the 35th after embarking on one of his trademark solo runs, but Mandanda thwarted him.
''I thought we played some great football,'' Nice coach Claude Puel said. ''Especially in the first half when we used the ball really well.''