Lille snapped a three-game winless run with a breezy 5-0 defeat of relegated Arles-Avignon on Saturday that took them back to the top of the Ligue 1 table.
A brace from Ivory Coast international Gervinho put hosts Lille 2-0 up at the interval and they added further goals through Mathieu Debuchy, Yohan Cabaye and David Rozehnal in the second half.
Lille had slipped to second place after drawing 1-1 at Lorient last weekend, but they are now two points above defending champions Olympique de Marseille.
In Saturday’s late game, Paris Saint-Germain beat Valenciennes 3-1 to draw level on points with third-placed Olympique Lyonnais in the battle for the final Champions League qualifying spot.
Nene broke the deadlock in the 10th minute with a goal of the season contender — a vicious, dipping volley from 20m that was his first strike in the league since December.
Mathieu Bodmer headed in PSG’s second 12 minutes later, with Mamadou Sakho making the points safe from Nene’s cross-shot in the 88th minute after Gregory Pujol had pulled one back for the visitors just before halftime.
Rock-bottom Arles, without a win in 22 games, were relegated two weeks ago, but they should have gone ahead after two minutes at Lille when Deme N’Diaye lashed wide with only goalkeeper Mickael Landreau to beat.
Lille took advantage just three minutes later, Gervinho tapping home Debuchy’s low cross from close-range after referee Nicolas Rainville had played an intelligent advantage following a foul on Eden Hazard.
Gervinho claimed his second on the stroke of halftime, rounding goalkeeper Cyrille Merville and tucking the ball away after an attractive move involving Adil Rami, Tulio de Melo and Hazard.
Debuchy slammed home a 49th-minute penalty after Gregory Lorenzi had been penalized for handball, before Emmanuel Correze saw red for a second bookable offense to leave the visitors with 10 men.
Cabaye got on the scoresheet in the 82nd minute with a delicate 25m free-kick, before Rozehnal rounded things off for the leaders with a neat lob.
Stade Rennais remain fifth after a 0-0 draw at home to Girondins de Bordeaux, but Frederic Antonetti’s side have now gone seven games without a win.
Sochaux jumped two places to seventh after an 11th-minute strike from Edouard Butin yielded a 1-0 defeat of Nancy.
Lens’ hopes of avoiding the drop received a damaging blow when they fell to a 3-2 defeat at home to Lorient, who moved into sixth place.
The result leaves Lens second from bottom, eight points from safety with only five games left to play this season.
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