AUXERRE, November 25 (Ligue 1) - Auxerre returned from the international break rejuvenated to pull off an unlikely win against 10-man Le Mans - their first victory in four league games.
Kamel Chafni put the hosts in front in the 34th minute and goals from Daniel Niculae and Ireneusz Jelen in the final 10 minutes sealed the three points.
Auxerre are still in the bottom three, two points behind 17th-placed Paris St Germain, but coach Jean Fernandez will be heartened by his side's display.
Rudi Garcia, the Le Mans manager, last week said that footballers have it too easy these days, but there was nothing straightforward about the challenge posed by a battling Auxerre.
It was 25 minutes before Le Mans first had a shot. Mathieu Coutadeur put through Yao Gervinho one-on-one with the goalkeeper with a long ball but the striker's shot was well saved by Olivier Sorin.
Auxerre responded with Niculae's fierce shot which clipped the crossbar, and minutes later Chafni found the target after Thomas Kahlenberg's cross was deflected into his path by Marko Basa.
Le Mans missed a great chance to equalise after the break when Tullio De Melo headed just over the bar, and the visitors were dealt a further blow when Gregory Cerdan was shown a red card in the 60th minute for fouling Dennis Oliech, who was clean through on goal.
Auxerre were denied a second by Yoann Pele's superb reaction save from Jelen, before Niculae doubled the lead in the 80th minute. He picked up the ball on the counter attack, shrugged off a challenge from Cyriaque Louvion and finished with accuracy.
Jelen made it three in the dying minutes with a clever lob over the onrushing Rodolphe Roche, on as a substitute for the injured Pele, and the striker could have grabbed a second in injury time but his shot crashed back off the crossbar.
Paris St Germain dropped into the relegation area with a 2-1 defeat at Nice in Ligue 1 on Sunday. The Paris club are third from bottom after their first defeat away from home this season while Nice, who have not lost before their fans yet, climb to fifth.
Striker Lilian Laslandes put Nice ahead with a header from close range on eight minutes.
Forward David N'Gog put the visitors level from the edge of the box on 31 minutes but six minutes later, Ivory Coast forward Bakary Kone beat the Parisian defence to give Nice the points.