Lille's Euro hopes fading
A review of the weekend's action in the French Ligue 1.
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Lille's fading hopes of challenging Monaco for an automatic Champions League berth suffered another blow on Sunday as they lost 1-0 at Nice to leave third place in jeopardy.
Mathieu Bodmer's goal on the stroke of half-time instead kept the points on the Mediterranean coast as Lille's second-half attempt at a fightback came up short.
Monaco's draw at Lorient on Saturday had offered Lille hope, but instead they ended the weekend eight points adrift in third place, with St Etienne just one point behind as the battle for a Champions League qualifying place intensifies.
Rennes turned the form book on its head to see off Lyon 2-0.
The hosts were winless in six league outings coming into the contest at Stade de la Route de Lorient, and up against a Lyon side on a run of six straight wins in all competitions - and unbeaten since going down 4-0 at Paris St Germain on December 1.
Yet those statistics were undermined as goals either side of the break from Cedric Hountondji and Ola Toivonen saw off a lacklustre Lyon, who were not helped by a straight red card shown to Samuel Umtiti just before half-time.
Toulouse twice came from behind to take a point from the Stade Velodrome with a 2-2 draw against Marseille.
The hosts raced into an early lead thanks to Dimitri Payet's fifth goal of the season, but the visitors wasted no time in hitting back through Wissam Ben Yedder's 11th-minute strike.
Mathieu Valbuena reclaimed OM's advantage just before the break, but once again Jose Anigo's team failed to hold on to a lead as Serge Aurier grabbed a point for the visitors with just under an hour played.
St Etienne got their bid for Champions League football back on track with a 3-0 win at home to Valenciennes on Saturday.
A goal on the stroke of half-time from Renaud Cohade and second-half efforts from Benjamin Corgnet and Yohan Mollo kept the hosts in the hunt for a top-three finish.
Their hopes were hit by a 2-0 loss at Bordeaux last time out, but this win put them back to within a point of third-placed Lille, who play on Sunday.
Valenciennes' concerns are at the other end of the table, though, and this loss kept them in the bottom three.
Sochaux defied the form book to claim only their third league victory of the season over high-flying Nantes, emerging as 1-0 victors.
The visitors may have been distracted by their upcoming Coupe de la Ligue semi-final against Paris St Germain, but they paid the price as Stopilla Sunzu scored the winner on the stroke of half-time.
With Sochaux remain rooted in the bottom three, still seven points from safety, this result has more impact at the top of the table as Nantes fall seven points off the top-four race.
An 87th-minute penalty from Ryad Boudebouz earned Bastia a 3-2 win over Guingamp.
Frederic Hantz's Bastia side twice trailed to goals from Rachid Alioui, but recovered on each occasion.
Adama Ba got their first leveller and Sebastien Squillaci the second on a night when all five goals game in the second half.
Ligue 1 strugglers Evian and Ajaccio both scored late on as they played out a 1-1 draw at the Stade Francois Coty on Saturday night.
Evian took the lead after 85 minutes following a Marco Ruben header before Gadji Tallo stuck back for Christian Bracconi's side in the dying moments for a much-needed point.
The draw meant Pascal Dupraz's hosts took their winless run to eight games as they remain three points above the relegation zone with their lowly opponents four points adrift at the bottom after recording just one league win all season.
Montpellier withstood a second-half rally from Reims to continue their strong start to 2014 which has seen them pull away from trouble in Ligue 1.
After going 3-0 up Montpellier conceded twice in the space of eight minutes to give the hosts hope, but moments after conceding the second they scored a fourth to wrap up a 4-2 win which extends their unbeaten run to five games.
Remy Cabella's brace was bookended by strikes from Joris Marveaux and M'Biaye Niang while Floyd Ayite got the first back for Reims before an Abdelhamid El Kaoutari own goal.
On Friday, Paris St Germain put pressure on Monaco at the top of Ligue 1, beating Bordeaux 2-0 to temporarily move six points clear.
Second-half goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alex settled a hard-fought game in PSG's favour.