Trio at the top in France
A review of the weekend's action in the French Ligue 1, including Marseille's victory over St Etienne.
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Marseille rejoined Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain and Lyon on 38 points after easing past St Etienne 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday night.
Andre Ayew superbly headed home Rod Fanni's cross on the stroke of half-time to earn Marseille a fourth victory in their last five league matches.
St Etienne, in contrast, have now earned just two points from their last five matches and have gone from looking like genuine title contenders to a side stuck in mid-table, 11 points adrift of the pacesetters.
Valenciennes bounced back from successive defeats with a hard-fought 2-1 win over 10-man Evian.
Goals from Gregory Pujol and Jose Saez saw the hosts to a victory that means they will spend the winter break inside the top six.
Saber Khelifa equalised for Evian in the first half but they had no response to Valenciennes' second goal, which came just moments after the visitors had lost Djakaridja Kone to a 71st-minute red card.
In Sunday's other game, Sochaux lost 2-0 at Toulouse to remain stuck in the bottom three heading into the winter break.
Adrien Regattin put the hosts in front in the first half with a superb free-kick and Emmanuel Riviere sealed the win five minutes from time.
On Saturday, Lyon maintained their charge for the title after an easy 3-0 win over Nice at the Stade de Gerland.
Goals from Lisandro Lopez, Anthony Reveillere and a Bafetimbi Gomis penalty saw them to victory.
It was an unhappy return to Lyon for former boss Claude Puel whose side ended the match with 10 men after David Ospina was sent off in the build-up to the Gomis spot kick.
Lille will head into the winter break in high spirits after hammering reigning champions Montpellier 4-1 at Grand Stade Metropole.
A Daniel Congre own goal and further strikes from Dimitri Payet, Nolan Roux and Ryan Mendes boosted Lille's European aspirations.
Souleymane Camara got a late consolation for the visitors, who had Younes Belhanda sent off when they were 2-0 down just before half-time.
Rennes came out on top 4-2 in an extraordinary match with Ajaccio which was delayed by 10 minutes after their fourth goal sparked a pitch invasion.
Julien Feret struck from an indirect free-kick in the penalty area after goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa handled Carl Medjani's back-pass but a section of Ajaccio supporters, angered by the taking of the free-kick, stormed from the stand to protest.
Referee Ruddy Buquet suspended the game until order was restored and Rennes held on for victory.
They had twice come from behind in the first half, Feret and Romain Alessandrini equalising after goals from Adrian Mutu and Fousseni Diawara. Cheick Diarra put them ahead for the first time before Feret's controversial clincher.
Bordeaux passed up the opportunity to get back to winning ways after their goalless draw against lowly Troyes.
Les Girondins have fallen behind the pace-setters in the league with their winless run stretched to six matches yet they had their chances on Saturday night.
Gregory Sertic and Ludovic Sane both struck the post from distance in the first half, while Troyes goalkeeper Yohann Thuram-Ulien had to make several decent saves throughout to help his side hang on for a valuable point.
Bastia moved six points clear of the drop zone after a routine 4-2 win over bottom side Nancy.
Jerome Rothen, Anthony Modeste and Sambou Yatabare all scored within the opening half an hour before Benjamin Moukandjo got a goal back for the visitors.
The teams traded goals as Modeste scored again for the hosts with Andre Luiz replying for Nancy, whose run of five consecutive 1-1 draws ended in dramatic fashion.
Reims were denied a first Ligue 1 win since early October as Pedrinho struck at the death to rescue a 2-2 draw for Lorient.
The hosts were riding a six-match winning streak ahead of kick-off and would have been forgiven for expecting to extend that to a club record seven games against a side without a win in nine dating back to October 6.
But Reims had other ideas and went in front through Odair Fortes in the fifth minute.
Maxime Barthelme levelled for Lorient early in the second half but Gaetan Courtet looked to have won it for Reims when he struck their second in 70th minute, only for Pedrinho to snatch a last-gasp equaliser.
On Friday night, title favourites PSG cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win at 10-man Brest.
The capital club went three points clear at the top of the standings, for 24 hours at least, courtesy of strikes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin Gameiro as well as an own goal from former PSG defender Bernard Mendy.
That came after Abdoulwhaid Sissoko was shown a straight red card for an ugly challenge on Argentinian forward Ezequiel Lavezzi in the 33rd minute.
It was Carlo Ancelotti's side's fifth triumph in a row in all competitions in a game they largely dominated.