Lyon moved a step closer to an eighth consecutive French championship on Saturday after Cris and Karim Benzema scored in a 2-0 win at Nancy as two of their title rivals slipped-up.
Paris St Germain and Toulouse both endured goalless draws – PSG at Grenoble and Toulouse at home to Valenciennes.
Those slip-ups saw Lyon streak six points clear with 52 points from 25 matches to 46 for PSG and 45 for Toulouse.
Marseille will bid to go a point above the Parisians with a win over modest Le Mans at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday while Bordeaux can draw level with PSG and leapfrog Toulouse if they win at struggling former giants St Etienne – who are set fair for the last 16 of the UEFA Cup after a midweek victory at Olympiakos.
PSG had also enjoyed a European win bonus – in their case over Germany’s VfL Wolfsburg, while Marseille were losing at home to Dutch side FC Twente – but against Grenoble they drew a blank.
With Guillaume Hoarau, two-goal star of the Wolfsburg match, having seemingly left his shooting boots in the capital, PSG coach Paul Le Guen threw on Peguy Luyindula for the final 20 minutes as an extra striker, but he failed to land a knockout blow at the Stade des Alpes.
The Parisians had won four matches on a roll before arriving in the Alps, but midtable Grenoble’s sturdy defence, expertly held together by Bostjan Cesar and Sandy Paillot, proved too much of a mountain to climb.
The hosts were happy to make it three draws in succession whereas for PSG taking their unbeaten run to five games was scant consolation for offering Marseille and Bordeaux an invitation to catch them up.
Hoarau missed a good chance handed him on a plate by Ludovic Giuly midway through the first half and then home keeper Gregory Wimbee did well to parry an effort from Stephane Sessegnon.
Grenoble looked to have a valid claim for a penalty five minutes from time when Mamadou Sakho appeared to handle in the box, before Mickael Landreau saved a header from Pierre Boya, who in any case had been signalled offside.
Lyon, with Barcelona awaiting them in the Champions League and France striker Benzema rested for an hour on the bench beside Juninho on Saturday, meanwhile did just enough to get past Nancy.
Cris broke the deadlock at the Stade Marcel Picot with a close range header on 19 minutes for his first league goal of the season and after several near misses Juninho and Benzema came on to steady the ship, the latter netting the second in stoppage time for his 12th of the season.
Elsewhere, Auxerre moved into the top half of the table with a 2-1 success at Le Havre to leave the latter rooted to the bottom ten points from safety but Sochaux are showing signs of life – albeit still second bottom – after they won by the same scoreline at midtable Lorient.
Nantes and Caen – only four and two points clear of third bottom St Etienne – are still not out of the woods following a 1-1 draw in Brittany.
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