Marseille closed to within a point of Ligue 1 leaders Lille with a 2-1 win at Montpellier on Sunday, while Lyon fell in the capital.
In a dress rehearsal for the Coupe de la Ligue final at the Stade de France on Saturday, OM came from a goal down to edge the hosts on Taye Taiwo’s late penalty.
Both teams had earlier gone down to 10 men in the ill-tempered clash, with Montpellier defender Abdelhamid El Kaoutari and OM forward Loic Remy handed red cards for an ugly spat deep in the second half.
Their suspensions mean the pair will automatically miss Saturday’s cup final.
The game broke open following a staid and chanceless first half, with Montpellier seizing control through striker Olivier Giroud in the 64th minute.
The towering forward turned the ball into the net off his left boot after being fed by Joris Marveaux.
But their lead would last all of five minutes before Andre-Pierre Gignac conjured up a wonder goal, having sprung the offside trap on Benoit Cheyrou’s long, defence-splitting bomb.
The drama kicked up a gear in the 78th minute after El Kaoutari gave away a penalty for tugging on Remy’s shirt.
The France international remonstrated with his marker, blows were exchanged and the pair were given their marching orders.
Taiwo kept his cool as he awaited the all-clear to take his spot kick, and four minutes later he sent OM into the lead and secured a vital three points for the defending champions.
Elsewhere, Paris-Saint Germain climbed to fourth on the table with a 1-0 win over title hopefuls Lyon.
PSG defender Zoumana Camara edged the hosts into the lead with a 76th-minute goal, his first of the campaign.
Lyon, who suffered just their second league clean sheet since September, remain third on the table but fall five points behind Marseille and six points off leaders Lille.
Finally, Arles’ relegation to the second division became a mathematical certainty as the bottom-placed side fell 1-0 at home to Valenciennes.
The visitors, without a win in their past seven league games and hovering above the drop zone by virtue of their superior goal difference, had top-scorer Gregory Pujol to thank after the striker’s rich vein of form continued with a 68th-minute winner.
Valenciennes rise to 13th on the table, three points clear of the relegation places, with seven games left in the season.
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