Bordeaux maintained their title push with a 2-0 win against Sochaux which ensures their French championship duel with Lyon will go down to a nail-biting finale next week.
Lyon, the six-time consecutive champions, emerged 1-0 winners from their home encounter with a Nancy team, fighting to retain third place, to maintain their two-point lead over Bordeaux.
However the display from Alain Perrin's champions is likely to give Bordeaux renewed hope that Auxerre can cause an upset against Lyon in Burgundy next week.
Paris Saint Germain moved out of the drop zone after a share of the points from a 1-1 draw with Saint Etienne that could prove beyond value.
Thanks to 2-1 defeats for Lens and Toulouse by Lille and Rennes respectively, PSG move out of the relegation zone to fifth from bottom.
Strasbourg however were relegated, along with Metz whose fate was decide previously, following their 4-1 home defeat to Caen. Strasbourg coach Jean-Marc Furnla said: “We did not play well in the spring and this is a huge disappointment because we had always hoped of getting back on track. The players on show tonight wanted to fight for the team but they were not up to it.”
After what was star striker Pauleta's final home game for PSG, the Parisians' top flight fate, and that of Lens and Toulouse, will be decided in next week's finale when the third and final relegation spot will be known.
Bordeaux went in for the interval virtually level on points with the defending champions thanks to Fernando's strike in the dying seconds of the half.
However Laurent Blanc's title-chasers were lucky to escape conceding a penalty to Sochaux after just 13 minutes when Souleymane Diawara's two-footed defensive tackle on Sebastien Grax caused uproar although a penalty was denied.
Minutes later Sochaux had keeper Teddy Richert to thank after he produced an acrobatic save with his trailing leg to parry Marouane Chamakh's drive from 15 yards.
Richert then ran off his line after anticipating Chamakh's attack and forcing the Bordeaux forward to send his attempted lob went high and wide.
Bordeaux were probing however, and Richert was finally beaten when Fernando found the net with a low angled shot following a corner in first half injury time.
After the restart Bordeaux doubled their lead thanks to the workmanlike Chamakh, who capped a superb cross from Benoit Tremoulinas with a superb header at Richert's near post in the 57th minute.
Lyon's hosting of Nancy, who have now failed to win their past 15 away matches, was a frustrating affair for the champions who in the end required a defensive blunder to retain their league lead.
After seven minutes defender Damian Macaluso's header fell at the feet of Lyon forward Abdul Kader Keita.
But after the Ivory Coast player dribbled past Gennaro Bracigliano in the Nancy goal to unleash his shot his effort was blocked at the line by Jonathan Brison.
Lyon forward Karim Benzema then saw his low drive after a cut-back from Anthony Reveillere parried by Bracigliano Repousse.
Sidney Govou thought he had given Lyon the opener but the France international was ruled for offside after tapping the ball into the empty net.
After the restart the dead ball tactics of Brazilian specialist Juninho proved ultimately decisive, his free kick from the left causing confusion among the Nancy defence and striking the leg of Nancy's Brazilian Andre Luiz before crossing the line.
Minutes later Lyon's advantage was preserved in spectacular fashion when Gregory Coupet pulled off a superb dive to his left to parry Marc-Antoine Fortune's header from a corner.
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