Paris: Andre-Pierre Gignac struck eight minutes from time to earn Marseille a 1-0 win against Lorient on Saturday and move them to within just two points of the Champions League places.
The result stretched Marseille`s unbeaten league run to five matches as Jose Anigo`s side moved fourth, swapping places with Saint-Etienne, with whom they drew 1-1 last weekend.
Defeat for Lorient left Christian Gourcuff`s men, now without a win in four, 11th in the table and left to rue their missed opportunities.
The contest at the Stade Velodrome began in lively fashion as Marseille winger Dimitri Payet sent a low effort whistling just past the post before Vincent Aboubakar fired narrowly wide for Lorient.
Yann Jouffre tested home goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with a long-range shot while Aboubakar`s strike partner, Jeremie Aliadiere, saw his acrobatic attempt flash over the crossbar.
Payet continued to look threatening for Marseille, though, and almost picked out Gignac for a tap-in but for a crucial intervention from Kevin Monnet-Paquet.
Aboubakar also continued to ask questions of the hosts` backline, drawing a good low save from Mandanda on the half-hour.
Mathieu Valbuena missed a golden chance to put Marseille ahead just after the break, scuffing a shot straight at Audard after Payet had danced his way into the box to tee him up.
Gignac was then denied by the legs of Audard twice in the space of five minutes as Marseille upped the pressure.
But Lorient were undone on 82 minutes as Payet escaped down the right and crossed towards the penalty spot, where Raphael Guerreiro made a hash of his clearance, allowing Gignac to pounce and slot home his 12th goal of the campaign.
Saint-Etienne could move third later Saturday, going back above Marseille as well as leapfrogging Lille, the latter on goal difference, if they win away at Bastia.
However, Lille can ensure they finish the weekend in third by avoiding defeat when they host in-form Lyon on Sunday.
On Friday, Layvin Kurzawa struck a dramatic stoppage-time winner for Monaco in a 3-2 victory over Reims that cut Paris Saint-Germain`s lead at the top to two points.
Monaco had twice led through goals from Valere Germain and Jeremy Toulalan but Prince Oniangue replied on both occasions for the visitors.
PSG could re-establish their five-point advantage, though, when they visit Toulouse on Sunday.