Berbatov fires Monaco past Nice
Monaco ensured Paris Saint-Germain would have to wait another week at least to claim the Ligue 1 title after Dimitar Berbatov's wonderfully impudent finish earned a 1-0 victory over Nice at the Stade Louis II.
Dimitar Berbatov's third goal since arriving in the principality gave the hosts their 21st win of the season and left their rivals needing two more wins from their final five games to guarantee back-to-back titles.
Joao Moutinho benefited from some lapse defending to pick out Berbatov on the left of the area and the Bulgarian sent a seemingly effortless lob over David Ospina and into the far corner.
Monaco cut the gap to leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who beat Lyon in the French League Cup final on Saturday, down to seven points but they remain outsiders to win the title.
A 0-0 draw at the Stade Velodrome did little to boost the ambitions of either Marseille or Lille.
While L'OM scrap to reach a Europa League berth, Lille are practically assured of third place and a shot at reaching the Champions League group stages.
Marseille perhaps enjoyed the better chances on the night -- Andre-Pierre Gignac went close in the first half and was denied by Vincent Enyeama at the death -- but the southerners sit two points behind Lyon.
Cheick Diabate scored a first half hat trick as Bordeaux claimed a 5-1 win against Guingamp.
Diabate fired the home side to a 3-0 lead in the 25th minute before Moustapha Diallo clawed one back for the Ligue 1 strugglers just before the half hour mark.
However, the visitors' foothold in the game slipped after the break, with a further score by Jussie and Diego Rolan's penalty wrapping up a comprehensive victory for Les Girondins, who returned to winning ways following five successive draws.
The result is sure to leave Guingamp looking over their shoulder and down at the bottom three, which they are only above thanks to a two-point advantage over Sochaux.
Ligue 1 stalwarts Sochaux gave themselves a fighting chance of staying up by beating Reims 1-0 at the Stade Auguste Delaune.
Ever-presents in the French championship since its inception in 1933, Sochaux have for most of the current season been coming to terms with the prospect of dropping into Ligue 2 and the unknown.
But Sebastian Corchia's first-half goal delivered a second straight win for Les Lionceaux, who are now unbeaten in four games, and another great escape appears to be on the cards for Herve Renard's men.
Ajaccio's relegation to Ligue 2 was confirmed at the hands of their Corsican neighbours Bastia as they slumped to a 2-1 derby defeat.
Only a win would have been good enough to delay the inevitable and although Aboubacar Camara put them ahead just five minutes in, Florian Raspentino levelled after half an hour and Sebastien Squillaci delivered the final insult a minute from time as Bastia took all three points.
Nantes routed Valenciennes 6-2 to push their hosts further towards the Ligue 1 trapdoor.
Stuck in the bottom three and on an alarming run of form, Valenciennes were desperate for a result but their hopes were effectively over by half-time as goals from Johan Audel, Alejandro Bedoya and Serge Gapke put Nantes firmly in control.
Gapke's second made it 4-0 early in the second half, and although Carl Medjani and Jean-Christophe Baheback pulled goals back late on, there was still time for a Medjani own goal a Banel Nicolita free-kick to complete the rout.
Imperilled Montpellier decided to press the self-destruct button as Lorient super-sub Vincent Aboubakar gladly helped force a remarkable 4-4 draw.
Remy Cabella's brace and goals from M'Baye Niang and Jean Deza saw the 2012 French champions -- down to 10 men thanks to goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren's early dismissal -- cruising towards victory.
La Paillade needed all three points to shirk a lingering threat of relegation, but they would escape with only one as Lorient ran riot across six crazy minutes at the Stade du Moustoir.
Jeremie Aliadiere's first-half penalty kept the Brittany club in sight of the unlikely draw and Kevin Monnet-Pacquet halved the deficit on 87 minutes before Aboubakar plundered a brace from the bench.
And so while Montpellier had at one point climbed as high as 10th in the table during the match, they shrank back into 14th place and sit six points clear of the drop zone with four games remaining.