ST ETIENNE, April 9 (Ligue 1) - Bafetimbi Gomis bagged a brace to lift St Etienne into fifth position in the Ligue 1 table and leave Lens deep in relegation trouble.
The in-form frontman struck twice in the first 15 minutes to blow Les Sang et Or away and make it three wins in a row for Les Verts.
They climb four places in the standings, while Lens - who are now winless in nine league matches - drop a place to fourth from bottom and are still haunted by relegation.
Gomis' 13th-minute opener was a stunning effort, the striker fastening onto Christophe Landrin's poke forward and unleashing a low 25-yarder that flew into the bottom corner.
He doubled ASSE's lead two minutes later when he tapped home from close range after Geoffrey Dernis' shot had been parried out by Lens goalkeeper Vedran Runje.
Going two goals down jolted the visitors into action and St Etienne goalkeeper Jody Viviani tipped Kevin Monnet-Paquet's left-footed shot over the bar in the 20th minute.
Lens captain Vitorino Hilton slipped an effort wide just before the break and left-back Nadir Belhadj's curling free-kick was missed by everyone and just slid by the far post midway through the second half.
Substitute Aruna Dindane had a goal disallowed for handball in the 75th minute before St Etienne awoke form their torpor in the final 10 minutes and applied some pressure as they looked for a third.
The closest they came to making it 3-0 was when Gomis thrashed a left-footed shot wide in search of his hat-trick.