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 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.
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 next week.
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 the 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 to parry Marouane Chamakh’s drive from 15m.
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 in first half injury time.
After the restart Bordeaux doubled their lead thanks to the workmanlike Chamakh, who capped a 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.
The dead ball skills of Juninho proved decisive, his free kick from causing confusion among the Nancy defense and striking the leg of Nancy’s Andre Luiz before crossing the line.