Lyon buoyed by Cup win
Lyon will head to fellow Ligue 1 title challengers Montpellier on Saturday in confident mood after seeing off another high-flying side, Lille, in the Coupe de la Ligue despite playing most of the match a man down.
Lyon were down to ten men after 11 minutes when Mouhamadou Dabo saw red, and were then a goal down to Joe Cole's 28th-minute strike.
But goals from Kim Kallstrom and Lisandro Lopez either side of half-time turned the match around before a late red card for Mathieu Debuchy levelled up the numbers in the final stages.
The nature of the win left coach Remi Garde purring, and he believes his team have shown they have the fight to close the five-point gap on leaders Paris St Germain.
"I like the way the team has succeeded in galvanising (itself) and soldiering on,'' he said. "My players have surprised me.
"For me, we have won against the best team in Ligue 1, and even if we were at home, to do something like that can make us very happy.
"A performance like this can kick-start the second half of our season. When you are enthusiastic and have a lot of heart, you can do great things.''
A kick-start is, however, required after Lyon lost their final match before the winter break, 1-0 at Valenciennes.
Montpellier also suffered defeat, going down to a surprise 4-2 loss to previously struggling Evian to allow PSG to go three points clear at the top.
With two of their closest rivals playing each other, PSG will hope to extend that gap with a victory at home over Toulouse, which will be the first league match in charge for new coach Carlo Ancelotti.
How the Italian's debut goes may depend on how well his players understand their instructions, which Ancelotti has reportedly insisted on giving in English, much to the confusion of some.
Lille's bid to bounce back from their cup loss to Lyon will have to wait until Sunday, when they head south for a tough assignment away to Marseille, who are looking for a way to get themselves back into the top four after falling nine points off the pace.
L'OM sit in sixth place, one point behind Rennes who travel to Caen on Saturday.
Bordeaux will hope to have Poland midfielder Ludovic Obraniak available for their home match with Valenciennes as they complete the formalities on his switch from Lille.
Dijon have also strengthened in the transfer window, and hope to have the formalities on Gael Kakuta's loan from Chelsea completed in time for the 20-year-old to face Evian on Saturday as they look to build a cushion above the relegation zone.
They sit 16th in the table, with the four clubs below them all facing tricky matches.
Last-placed Ajaccio host Auxerre, Sochaux travel to St Etienne and Nancy are at home to Lorient. Nice, who are 17th, head to Brest.