Montpellier open up gap
An early goal from Souleymane Camara proved enough for Montpellier to eke out a narrow 1-0 victory over Valenciennes and establish a five-point lead over Paris St Germain at the Ligue 1 summit.
Camara put the hosts ahead after just four minutes and although Montpellier missed numerous chances to ease their nerves with a second, it proved enough for them to pull clear of PSG, who play their game in hand against Sochaux at the Parc des Prince.
Champions Lille kept themselves in the title race with a 2-0 victory at relegation-threatened Dijon in a match which saw three players sent off.
LOSC were a player down from the 36th minute, when Idrissa Gueye was sent off for violent conduct, but the visitors made light of their numerical disadvantage and notched twice before half-time through Rio Mavuba and Eden Hazard to seal the points.
Dijon defender Abdoulaye Meite evened up the numbers when he too was dismissed for violent conduct in the first minute of the second half and Bennard Yao Kumordzi followed suit 13 minutes from time - putting paid to the hosts' hopes of getting anything from the game.
Marseille's winless run in the league was extended to 12 games as Bordeaux emerged with a 2-1 win at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.
Jussie opened the scoring inside the opening minute and the Brazilian doubled his tally shortly before the half-hour mark.
Jordan Ayew pulled one back 10 minutes into the second half but Marseille could not find an equaliser with Bordeaux also missing a second-half penalty.
St Etienne kept their hopes of European qualification very much alive with a thumping 4-1 win at struggling Caen.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice after the break as the visitors stayed a point behind Rennes, who moved up to fourth. Aurelien Montaroup's own goal put St Etienne in front late in the first half and goals from Aubameyang and Max-Alain Gradel after the break had them three up.
Livio Nabab pulled one back for Caen, but Aubameyang wrapped up an impressive win for the visitors to leave their opponents a point above the drop zone.
A penalty from Julien Feret earned Rennes a third successive win to boost their European hopes and leave Brest in relegation trouble.
The result lifted Rennes up to fourth spot and a Europa League berth, but for Brest it was a fifth loss in six games and left them outside the drop zone only on goal difference.
Toulouse's Europa League ambitions suffered a blow as two Aldo Angoula goals handed Evian a 2-1 victory at the Parc des Sports.
Angoula put the home side ahead after 10 minutes and added a second, shortly after Wissam Ben Yedder had levelled for Toulouse, who slip to seventh as a result, a point behind fourth-placed Rennes.
Luciano Monzon's first-half penalty proved the difference between the teams as Nice edged towards survival and deepened nine-man Auxerre's relegation fears with a 1-0 win.
The Argentinian defender converted from the spot in the 36th minute to earn the hosts three vital points, with Auxerre's cause not helped by the dismissal of Dennis Oliech for dissent three minutes later.
Willy Boly added to their woes when he too was sent off 12 minutes from time as Nice climbed four points clear of the drop zone and left basement boys AJA five points adrift of safety with five games remaining.