PARIS -- Saint-Etienne beat relegation-threatened Evian 1-0 in the French league on Sunday to move level with third-place Lyon, which lost by the same scoreline at Reims as its already slim title hopes evaporated.
Saint-Etienne scored the only goal 12 minutes from time.
Francois Clerc crossed to the far post and Romain Hamouma's header crashed off the underside of the crossbar. The ball went down onto the line and Evian goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait was unable to keep it out.
Evian protested fiercely but replays showed the ball had gone over.
Laquait had kept Evian in the game with earlier heroics. He was beaten on the stroke of halftime but Yohan Mollo's strike crashed off the right upright.
Saint-Etienne and Lyon are level on 53 points, 11 points behind league leader Paris Saint-Germain and four behind second-place Marseille.
Evian is one point off the bottom three.
"Just like you all, I could see the apathy of the team at the beginning of the match," Lyon coach Remi Garde said. "I think that hurt us all game. There is something that is broken and I'm quite worried.
"I have noted that there is a lot less energy, a lot less enthusiasm in the team, and that when there are efforts, they are more individual than collective. I have no explanation."
Lyon was desperate for victory after two defeats on the trot but made things difficult for itself six minutes into the second half when Milan Bisevac conceded a penalty with a foul on Diego.
The Lyon defender was then shown a straight red card for dissent.
Grzegorz Krychowiak sent his spot kick straight down the middle to help Reims to its third win in five matches, a run which has seen it edge closer to safety.
Moments before the penalty Diego had unleashed a powerful strike which crashed off the right upright.
Reims is four points off the drop zone.
Lille is fifth, a point behind Lyon and Saint-Etienne, after crushing Lorient 5-0.
Kalou scored a second before the interval and Ronny Rodelin extended Lille's lead still further seven minutes into the second half.