A late goal gave second-placed LOSC Lille Metropole a 1-0 victory over 10-man Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Sunday, while AS Monaco won 1-0 at Nantes to also keep up the pressure on leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Pape Souare headed in Florent Balmont’s cross at the far post four minutes from time to score Lille’s only attempt on target.
Toulouse had been forced to play with 10 men for most of the second half after striker Oscar Trejo was sent off following a second booking.
Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama had made a number of saves and he pulled off another stunning stop to deny Adrien Regattin in the final minute. It was his ninth successive clean sheet.
“The match was complicated tonight, but these type of victories are often the nicest,” Balmont said. “It was difficult, we struggled to get going in the first half. The red card helped us and we were better during the second period. At the end, it’s a nice win.”
“We’re distancing ourselves from sixth place, that’s our aim because Monaco and PSG are above us for the whole season,” he said. “We’re putting distance between ourselves and certain teams, that’s what’s most interesting for us. There’s no sense of euphoria, we know where we come from.”
Monaco are a point further back after ending a run of two matches without a victory, despite a poor performance from star striker Radamel Falcao.
“It was important for us to win, not because PSG and Lille had done so, but after three matches where we didn’t play well and didn’t get the points,” Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said.
“Today, we played well on the ball, pressed well and had a lot of chances, so I’m very happy,” he added.
Falcao missed a series of scoring chances before being substituted shortly after the hour mark.
His teenage replacement, Anthony Martial, started the move which led to the goal 20 minutes from time. The France under-21 international held off three Nantes defenders and managed to get the ball to James Rodriguez, whose effort was parried by goalkeeper Remy Riou.
It came straight out to Mounir Obbadi, who curled in a delightful long-range shot.
Nantes remain fifth, while AS Saint-Etienne are two points further back after winning 1-0 at OGC Nice, who fell to their fourth successive defeat.
The traveling contingent of Saint-Etienne fans — numbering approximately 250 — had to be evacuated from the stadium before kickoff after dismantling their seats and throwing them toward the Nice fans. Eight people were injured, but none of them seriously.
Mevlut Erding took advantage of a poor mistake by Nice goalkeeper Lucas Veronese — who was making his home debut — to score the only goal of the game in the 23rd minute.
Veronese misjudged a back-pass and, as the ball rolled past the goalkeeper, Erding showed lightning-quick reactions to run onto it and slot it into an empty net.
Nice struggled to get past a solid Saint-Etienne defense and never really troubled goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.
It was Saint-Etienne’s first win in four matches.