Dario Benedetto grabbed the decisive goal as Olympique de Marseille bounced back from going behind to a Victor Osimhen strike to win 2-1 at Lille on Sunday; Saint-Etienne and Stade Rennais both suffered damaging losses.
LOSC Lille 1-2 Olympique de Marseille
LOSC came into the game having seen Rennes lose at Reims earlier in the day and knowing that if they were to beat OM, they would move into third place. They pushed from the off, and Osimhen brought a brilliant stop from Steve Mandanda with some of the crowd still to take their seats in the packed Stade Pierre Mauroy (4').
Mandanda's form has been a major reason for OM's push for a return to the UEFA Champions League next season by securing a top-two finish, and with Dimitri Payet — Marseille's other star performer this term — absent due to a thigh injury, the France international goalkeeper upped his game still further.
He denied former OM forward Loïc Rémy (15') and then saw Osimhen shoot just wide of the target (29') as Lille sought to give coach Christophe Galtier something to celebrate for his 100th game in charge of them.
With young debutant Jean Onana performing well in midfield, the hosts dominated possession, and created the better openings, but only made the breakthrough soon after the restart. With the OM backline caught out, Osimhen raced onto a Jonathan Bamba through ball to chip his 13th league goal of the season over Mandanda (51').
A Rémy goal — teed up by Osimhen — was ruled out for offside, but when Valentin Rongier saw a penalty saved by Mike Maignan after Bouna Sarr had been fouled (60') Lille's luck appeared to be in. It was, until it was then suddenly out.
Morgan Sanson fired a corner in to the near post where it was headed on by Valère Germain — the OM striker, who had not scored since September, hopefully claimed the goal, but the decisive touch came off Lille defender Reinildo (67').
Two minutes later, Benedetto, who had looked out of sorts, turned a Germain cross in from close range and Marseille's unbeaten run was being extended to 14 matches and they were pulling 11 points clear in second place. Lille, who had won three in a row, remain fourth.
THE PLAYER: Steve Mandanda
Once again, Marseille wouldn't have had the opportunity to come frorm behind but for their goalkeeper, who kept them in it in a first half where they managed just a single shot.
THE STAT: 17
Alvaro Gonzalez remains unbeaten in Ligue 1 as a Marseille player. He's now won 12 games and drawn five since joining in the summer from Villarreal.
Stade Brestois 29 3-2 AS Saint-Etienne
Claude Puel's side find themselves just two points above the bottom three after suffering a fourth successive league defeat.
The stormy weather had calmed before kick-off, but the visitors were faced with a tempest of a different kind from their hosts at the Stade Francis Le Blé.
Paul Lasne (20'), Gaëtan Charbonnier (38') and Cardona (43') all found the net before the break to leave Les Verts shell shocked. It was the first time since December 2009 the ten-time record French champions found themselves with a three-goal deficit at the break.
Denis Bouanga's penalty (54') and Loïs Diony's strike (69') did give the scoreline a better look to it for Saint-Etienne, but they could not prevent Brest claimed their first win in four league games.
Stade de Reims 1-0 Stade Rennais FC
Rennes suffered a second loss in three games to leave the door open for LOSC Lille — just a point behind them in fourth — to leapfrog them into third with a win at home to Olympique de Marseille on Sunday evening.
FIFA World Cup winner Steven Nzonzi started for the visitors, but Julien Stéphan's men looked like a side short on confidence after winning just two of their last six league games.
In a tight game, Moussa Doumbia provided the biggest threat, sizzling a shot just over (52') before causing enough panic in the Rennes back line that Damien Da Silva lost his footing and his bearings, and brought down El Bilal Touré. He picked himself up to slot home the penalty (70'), and Predrag Rajkovic's save from Raphinha's powerful shot (90+1') secured all three points.