Olympique de Marseille continued their recent revival as Valère Germain's goal earned them a 1-1 draw away to Stade Rennais FC at Roazhon Park.
Stade Rennais FC 1 - 1 Olympique de Marseille
Marseille travelled to Brittany having won their previous three matches, form that had boosted their hopes of European qualification. This was always going to be a tough examination of their credentials against a Rennes side fresh from knocking Real Betis out of the Europa League, but they came away with a point thanks to Germain's 56th-minute goal.
The visitors had won their first corner of the game, with Maxime Lopez playing the ball short to Florian Thauvin. His cross from the left was headed home at the near post by a brave Germain, who took a nasty knock to the forehead from Damien Da Silva in the process.
Before that, Rennes had taken an early lead in similar fashion, with the diminutive Benjamin André getting up to head in a cross from the right at the near post, the ball taking a deflection off Mario Balotelli on its way (7').
Ben Arfa absent
André was one of three changes to the Rennes team made by coach Julien Stéphan following their remarkable 3-1 win in Seville. Hatem Ben Arfa was missing from the squad altogether, with media reports claiming he had been involved in an "incident" at the pre-match get-together.
Mehdi Zeffane was another of the faces brought into the home team in place of Remy Bensebaini, but the former lasted just 13 minutes before having to come off injured.
Amavi sent off
The Bretons almost doubled their lead on the half-hour mark when a rasping Clément Grenier free-kick from 30 yards, moving wickedly through the air, was turned over by Steve Mandanda. The OM goalkeeper also saved well from M'Baye Niang in the second half after seeing Germain score at the other end.
Marseille held on for a point after Jordan Amavi was sent off deep in stoppage time for a last-man foul on substitute Adrien Hunou (90+3'), and Rudi Garcia's team are fifth, four points ahead of Rennes in ninth.
THE PLAYER: Valère Germain
All the focus has been on Balotelli of late, but it was Germain who delivered for OM here. It was a long overdue goal for the ex-AS Monaco man, his fourth Ligue 1 Conforama goal of the campaign but also his first since September 26. It came at a price for the 28-year-old, who took a nasty knock to the head while scoring, although he did stay on for the remainder of the game.
THE STAT: 11
Rennes are unbeaten in 11 home games in all competitions since the appointment of Julien Stéphan as coach in early December, with three draws and eight wins, including one on penalties. They will hope to keep that run going when they host second-tier US Orléans in the Coupe de France quarter-finals on Wednesday.