Paris Saint-Germain, seeking only their third title and first since 1994, and Lyon are setting the pace in the Ligue 1 after both posted key away successes on Saturday.
With Bordeaux looking to make it three wins out of three against Nice yesterday, it was Marseille who lost ground following a 1-1 draw at Rennes, where the Mediterranean club missed a hat full of chances to make it a three-way overnight tie at the top on seven points with PSG and Lyon.
Marseille ought to have gone top with maximum points, but were denied by a superb performance from Rennes keeper Nicolas Douchez, who repelled everything thrown at him save for a close-range volley from Mamadou Niang seven minutes after the restart.
Jerome Leroy had slotted home a neatly-taken penalty for Rennes on the half-hour after Suleimane Diawara had handled in the box.
Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda almost gifted Rennes the lead once more on the hour when he initially failed to control a loose ball and nearly let in Ismael Bangoura.
At the other end, Brandao saw Douchez repel a venomous low drive and then excel himself still further with a top-drawer tip over from Fernando Morientes’ point-blank effort before making a diving stop from Niang.
Paris Saint-Germain have spent the years since their last title win in the doldrums, save for occasional domestic cup success, but their repeated lack of success in qualifying for the lucrative Champions League has left the capital club with a financial gulf to bridge.
Peguy Luyindula’s opener and further goals from Mevlut Erding and Christophe Jallet, however, were enough to send Antoine Kombouare’s Parisians joint top with Lyon following a 3-2 win at Valenciennes, for whom Siaka Tiene and Rudy Mater were on target.
Lyon, dethroned by Bordeaux last season after seven unbroken years at the top of the tree, raced past Auxerre 3-0, with Jean-Alain Boumsong, Jean II Makoun and Miralem Pjanic all hitting the net for Claude Puel’s side who steamrollered Anderlecht in their Champions League qualifier first-leg match.
Boumsong said Lyon were again the team to beat.
“Things are going well — this group has a lot of quality,” the France international and former Newcastle United defender said.
Elsewhere, Nancy lost their early leadership of the table as they slid to a 2-1 loss at modest Le Mans.
Monaco, shocked 4-0 last week at Nancy, got back on track with a 2-0 home win over Lorient.
There is no respite for former giants Saint Etienne, who slumped at their Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium to promoted Boulogne 1-0 for a third loss in as many outings.