Marseille beat St Etienne 3-0 on Sunday to retain second place in Ligue 1 and keep Lyon under pressure.
“We want to be in first place,” Marseille captain Lorik Cana told Canal Plus television. “Lyon remain the favorites. If we keep going like this, we have a great chance to contend for the title until the very end.”
Senegal striker Mamadou Niang scored twice against St Etienne, converting a penalty in the 60th minute before beating Araujo Ilan to the ball in the 76th minute to head in a rebound.
Brazilian forward Brandao netted Marseille’s second goal in the 73rd minute with a diving header off a cross from Benoit Cheyrou.
In a tactical first half, an unmarked Niang had the only clear chance, heading over the crossbar after a corner by Mathieu Valbuena in the 33rd minute.
Bafetimbi Gomis nearly put St Etienne ahead in the 51st minute when he chased a bouncing clearance from his goalkeeper Jeremie Janot to go clear on goal, but over-hit his lob from the edge of the box.
A free-kick from Marseille fullback Taye Taiwo in the 59th minute was the turning point of the match. Janot saved the Nigeria defender’s shot, but Kevin Mirallas conceded the decisive penalty when he fouled Niang as the forward pounced on the rebound.
St Etienne stay in the relegation zone with 29 points.
In Paris, Paris Saint-Germain beat Nice 2-1 to move up to fifth place and remain in the chase for a European spot, trailing Lyon by just four points.
“There’s one escapee, Lyon, but we’re still in the chasing pack,” PSG coach Paul Le Guen told Ligue 1’s Web site.
PSG striker Guillaume Hoarau opened the scoring in the 20th minute with his 16th goal of the season, heading in a rebound after Nice goalkeeper David Ramirez Ospina had parried a shot from Ludovic Giuly.
Loic Remy leveled for Nice in the 35th minute, intercepting a back-pass from PSG forward Peguy Luyindula to round goalkeeper Mickael Landreau.
Sammy Traore got PSG’s winner when he out-jumped the Nice defense to power in a header in the 51st minute off a corner from Benin playmaker Stephane Sessegnon.
Nice remained in eighth place with 41 points.
Meanwhile, Sochaux were convincing 3-0 winners over Rennes, earning their third straight home win and moving away from the relegation zone.
Ryad Boudebouz converted a penalty in the 35th minute after Rennes midfielder Stephane M’Bia held Jacques Faty’s jersey inside the area.
Turkey forward Mevlut Erding doubled the lead for Sochaux in the 37th minute, dribbling past two Rennes defenders to fire home a low shot and raise his tally to nine goals this season.
Czech Republic forward Vaclav Sverkos sealed the win in the 87th minute with a diagonal strike from the edge of the box.
“This victory shows the squad’s will to survive,” Sochaux goalkeeper Teddy Richert told the club’s Web site. “Every match until the end of the season will matter.”