Champions League hopefuls LOSC Lille Metropole snapped a five-match skid on Saturday as they beat Sochaux-Montbeliard 2-0, while Olympique de Marseille boosted their European bid by routing SC Bastia 3-0 in Ligue 1.
Eighteen-year-old Divock Origi stabbed home amid a goalmouth scramble after three minutes at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, before Ryan Mendes added a second in second-half stoppage-time to bolster Lille’s grip on third place.
For Belgian youth international Origi, it was his first goal since the opening weekend of the season, while Cape Verde striker Mendes belatedly got his campaign up and running as Rene Girard’s men moved three points clear of AS Saint-Etienne.
In Marseille, Dimitri Payet struck twice in the first half before Andre-Pierre Gignac added his 11th of the campaign after the break to keep l’OM fifth, five points adrift of Lille.
With Marseille out of both domestic cup competitions, the league represents the only avenue to European soccer next term for Jose Anigo’s side, who seem to be on form after a third win in five.
Successive victories had seen Bastia looking to break into the top half of the table at the Stade Velodrome, but the visitors fell behind on 13 minutes as Payet exchanged passes with Gignac before scuffing a shot that deceived goalkeeper Mickael Landreau.
There was little the league’s record appearance maker could do about Payet’s second, as the winger curled in a sumptuous long-range effort on 25 minutes to take his season’s tally to seven.
Landreau stopped Marseille from increasing their lead as he turned a Gignac effort round the post before the striker headed over a Benjamin Mendy cross.
Wahbi Khazri came close to reducing the deficit two minutes after halftime, but Bastia’s day got worse shortly after as Landreau limped off with an ankle injury.
Replacement Jean-Louis Leca’s first task was to pick the ball out of the net as Gignac netted Marseille’s third on 55 minutes.
Meanwhile, basement side AC Ajaccio picked up their second win of the season after beating Stade Rennais 3-1, as fellow relegation candidates Valenciennes bagged three vital points with a 2-1 victory at home to OGC Nice.
Elsewhere, Stade de Reims came behind to defeat En Avant de Guingamp 2-1, while Remy Cabella was on target as 10-man Montpellier Herault drew 1-1 with Evian Thonon-Gaillard.