Paris: Monaco continued their mini-revival, and set down a marker for their midweek Champions League home tie against Benfica with a 2-0 victory over Evian in Ligue 1 action on Saturday.
Under-pressure Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim looked on as last season`s runners-up picked up a fourth win in ten matches to move within three points of the top three.
"The most important thing is the three points," said Jardim.
"The second half was better than the first but we deserved the victory because we had five or six good chances. We`re moving up the table and we have to target the top five places and after that we`ll see." added the Portuguese.
Marseille will carry a four point lead over Paris Saint-Germain into their home tie against Toulouse on Sunday after Laurent Blanc`s defending champions saw off nine-man Lens 3-1 on Friday.
Saint-Etienne now trail third placed Bordeaux only on goal difference after they edged Lorient 1-0 in the afternoon fixture.
Portutuese international midfielder Joao Moutinho slotted home for Monaco from the penalty spot in just the second minute as the 2013 French Cup finalists fell behind early on.
Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco then tapped home from close range after Evian`s Danish goalkeeper Jesper Hansen inexplicably allowed Ricardo Carvalho`s innocent lob to bounce over his head.
Elsewhere, ten-man Guingamp ended their four game losing streak with a desperate 2-1 victory at Lille.
Goals either side of half-time from Claudio Beauvue and Ronnie Schwartz gave the Brittany side only their third win of the season and lifted them off the bottom of the table.
Lille pulled a goal back with 12 minutes left when Riu Mavuba scrambled the ball home after a mixup in the Guingamp penalty area but it wasn`t enough, despite defender Benjamin Brou Angoua seeing red for the away side with four minutes remaining.
Nantes took the lead at home to struggling Reims when Johan Audel hit the back of the net after just 13 minutes but a superb curling free-kick from Diego levelled the match at 1-1, 13 minutes into the second half.
The point kept Nantes in sole possession of fifth place.
"It`s a shame we gave up the equaliser from a set-piece but we were suffering tonight (Saturday)," said Nantes coach Michel Der Zakarian.
"We gave up more opportunites to the opposition in this match than we have in all our other matches combined. Physically we suffered and technically they were better than us especially in the way they used the ball. On the whole, we did very well to get a draw." he added.
On the Cote d`Azur, Claude Makelele, the former assistant coach to Blanc at PSG, saw his Bastia side take the lead six minutes after half-time at Nice when Floyd Ayite found the target.
Despite a furious fightback from mid-table Nice, the Corsicans held on for only their second win of the season and some welcome relief for former Real Madrid and Chelsea midfielder Makelele.
The match was marred by a mini pitch invasion from disgruntled Nice fans at full-time, although the situation was swiftly brought under control.
Meanwhile, Metz and Rennes battled to a 0-0 draw in the northeast of France.
In the afternoon match, Saint-Etienne got back to winning ways after two defeats and two draws in their last four outings, with a late winning goal at Lorient.
Midfielder Fabien Lemoine was the hero for Christophe Galtier`s side as he popped up in the 87th minute to fire home after the visitors had dominated possession for the majority of the 90 minutes.
The victory takes the `Green Devils` up to joint third in the table as they try to get their quest back on track for a first French title since 1981.
For Lorient, it was their sixth defeat in ten matches and keeps them camped just above the bottom three.
Sunday`s action sees leaders Marseille attempt to extend their advantage at the top when they host midtable Toulouse in the early match while Bordeaux await relegation threatened Caen and Montpellier travel to Lyon in the final match of the weekend.