PARIS, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Striker John Utaka scored a goal in each half to help Stade Rennes win 3-1 at St Etienne in a Ligue 1 match on Saturday.
The Nigerian international opened the scoring with a 16-metre free kick which left no chance to goalkeeper Jeremie Janot after 15 minutes.
St Etienne equalised thanks to Bafetimbi Gomis on 35 minutes but the in-form Utaka volleyed home from inside the box to put Rennes back in the driving seat just before the hour.
Three minutes later, Sylvain Marveaux found the net again for the visitors and wrapped up St Etienne's third consecutive league defeat at home.
Les Verts, still fifth in the standings, last won on their home turf when they beat Valenciennes 3-0 on Dec. 16.
Rennes climbed from 12th to sixth in the table level with St Etienne on 36 points from 25 games.
Leaders Olympique Lyon, who won 2-1 at Lille on Friday, are on 57 points. Second-placed Racing Lens, away to Monaco on Sunday, have 43 points and Lille 39 in third.