AS Saint-Etienne overcame a poor pitch to make up ground in the race for a European spot by defeating Nantes 2-0 in Ligue 1 on Saturday.
Benjamin Corgnet fired into the bottom corner in the 24th minute and Mevlut Erding converted a penalty in the 83rd.
Saint-Etienne provisionally climbed to fourth with a game in hand, as Nantes slipped to sixth.
“The pitch is not good, that’s for sure,” Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier said. “That’s not funny because it’s a pitch that generates injuries.”
Also on Saturday, Stade de Reims thrashed AC Ajaccio 4-1 to go level on points with Nantes, Sochaux-Montbeliard edged Stade Rennais 2-1 to leave the last spot to Ajaccio and OGC Nice beat Evian Thonon Gaillard 3-1 for a third straight win in all competitions.
Elsewhere, Montpellier Herault extended their winless streak to 11 games in all competitions by drawing SC Bastia 0-0, while Toulouse also split the points with En Avant de Guingamp in a goalless draw.
Saint-Etienne threatened early with tame shots from Erding. The Turkey striker also set up Corgnet, whose first-time effort sailed over the bar in the ninth minute.
However, Corgnet did not miss in the 24th minute. Erding slipped the ball to the midfielder, who beat goalkeeper Remy Riou with a low strike from the edge of the penalty area.
Nantes could have leveled before halftime when Serge Gakpe outmuscled Saint-Etienne defender Jonathan Brison to win a loose ball, but sent his half-volley wide.
Venezuela international Fernando Aristeguieta shot straight at goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier in the 45th minute.
Saint-Etienne, who lost 2-1 in extra-time to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue round-of-16 last week, tired in the second half, but Nantes still could not create any scoring chances.
Erding added a second goal for the hosts from the penalty spot after Nantes substitute Chaker Alhadhur handled a high ball.
Riou prevented Nantes from conceding a third by blocking Erding’s last-minute effort.
In Reims, Gaetan Charbonnier gave the hosts a 2-0 lead with spectacular volleys in the 59th and 62nd minutes, before Israeli forward Eliran Atar made it 3-0 from a tight angle in the 73rd.
Ajaccio forward Eduardo headed home to pull one back in the 75th, but Reims winger Floyd Ayite sealed the win in the 78th.
Sochaux striker Cedric Bakambu played a one-two with Vincent Nogueira before beating Rennes ’keeper Benoit Costil for the winner in the 72nd minute.
Bakambu put the hosts ahead with a penalty in the 18th, but Rennes winger Romain Alessandrini equalized in the 41st.
“Sochaux, with 11 points, are going to keep believing,” Sochaux coach Herve Renard after first league victory since he was appointed on Oct. 7 to replace Eric Hely. “We are no lunatics who are dreaming. We know very well that securing safety will be very difficult, but at least we’re united.”