Runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain continued their impressive bid to win Ligue 1 this season after a 1-0 away victory at fifth place Nantes, while Monaco and Lyon both failed to pick up victories in the race for the Champions League places.
Read below for all the Ligue 1 action this weekend:
Strasbourg 0-2 Guingamp
Guingamp are unbeaten in their last five after a comfortable 2-0 away victory at Strasbourg.
France welcomed back top flight football on Friday evening, with two teams battling it out for a mid-table spot.
Early finishes from Yannis Salibur and Nicolas Benezet wrapped up the three points for Antoine Kombouare’s side, and moved them temporarily up to sixth until Nice’s win on Saturday.
The opener came when Marcus Coco found Salibur with a delightful flick, and the striker danced between three defenders before lofting a deft finish over Alexandre Oukidja. And Guingamp doubled their lead eight minutes later through Benezet – a cool finish into the bottom corner after latching onto Jimmy Briand’s incisive pass across the box.
Rennes 0-3 Marseille
Marseille continued their hunt for an automatic Champions League place with an emphatic 3-0 win over Rennes.
Rudi Garcia’s side have played second fiddle to both Lyon and Monaco in the race for second and third, but re-emphasised their credentials with a professional away performance.
Florian Thauvin missed the chance to open the scoring on the half hour mark, after seeing his spot kick well saved by Tomas Koubek. But it wouldn’t matter for long, as the Frenchman turned to provider in setting up Valere Germain minutes later, who slotted home despite claims that Thauvin had handled in the build-up.
Morgan Sanson doubled Marseille’s lead on the stroke of half time with a cushioned finish from Germain’s intelligent pullback into the penalty area. And the visitors’ dominance was further shown through Thauvin’s back post header in the second half after a flowing move and cross – a worthy way to wrap up the three points.
Dijon 1-1 Metz
Bottom-place Metz earned an away point at Dijon to remain unbeaten in four games.
Mid-table Dijon took the lead through Julio Tavares, in only the first minute. It was a moment of individual brilliance, as the Cape Verdean picked up the ball, drove into the penalty area and wriggled through the defence with a quick pair of heels, before curling the ball past Eiji Kawashima.
But Metz have demonstrated impressive resilience in the last month, and got their reward on the stroke of full time. Cedric Yambere could only hook out an aerial ball as far as Nolan Roux, who lashed the ball back towards goal and into the bottom corner to equalise.
Papy Djilobodji was then shown a red card in the closing stages, to top off a disappointing second period for Dijon.
Montpellier 0-0 Monaco
Monaco dropped points away at Montpellier, to lose ground on leaders Paris Saint-Germain and their grip on an automatic Champions League qualifying place.
Early chances were squandered by Junior Sambia and Rachid Ghezzal, before Sambia forced Danjiel Subasic into a fine save with a superb, dipping long strike.
But neither side could make the breakthrough after the interval, meaning Monaco fall further behind PSG and Montpellier only have picked up one win in their last five games.
Nice 1-0 Amiens
Nice continued their impressive form with a tight 1-0 home victory against Amiens.
Former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli started on the bench for Lucien Favre’s side, with Alassane Plea chosen to lead the line.
However, it was Pierre Lees-Melou who opened the scoring after 66 minutes. The Frenchman picked up possession from Allan Saint-Maxim, before striding forward and lashing home a thunderbolt off the underside of the crossbar with help from a deflection off Khalad Adenon.
Nice moved back up to sixth place with their win, three points now behind Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes.
Troyes 0-1 Bordeaux
Bordeaux finally returned to winning ways after scraping past struggling Troyes 1-0.
Amid ramped up transfer speculation involving Brazilian wonder kid Malcom, Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side secured a crucial victory and moved four points ahead of the drop zone.
The only goal of the game came from Gaetan Laborde in the 15th minute, after Arsenal target raced from deep inside his own half to the edge of the Troyes box, before teeing up Laborde at the back post to head home.
The visitors hung on to their slender lead to end a torrid run of form before the winter break, that had seen them slip ever close to the relegation zone.
Caen 0-1 Lille
Lille’s attempts to escape the drop this season continued after a 1-0 away victory at Caen.
The home side forced Mike Maignan into two terrific saves early on, after he denied Ronny Rodelin both times. And it was Lille who opened the scoring on the verge of half time, when Yassine Benzia threaded through Nicolas Pepe, who duly stroked home.
As Remy Vercoutre attempted to restart play quickly, an altercation with Lille’s goalscorer saw him controversially shown a red card.
Fode Ballo-Toure was also shown his marching orders early in the second half after a studs up challenge on Rodelin, but Lille held out for all three points.
St Etienne 2-0 Toulouse
St Etienne picked up their first win in five upon their return from the winter break, with a comfortable win over strugglers Toulouse.
The deadlock was broken by Robert Beric from the penalty spot, after Andy Delort’s late challenge from behind on Jonathan Bamba.
And the home side, despite the best efforts of Bournemouth loanee Max Gradel, doubled their lead in the 86th minute. Assane Diousse was on hand at the back post to stab home after a ball sent in low across the six-yard box, to wrap up an important victory for Jean-Louis Gasset’s side.
Lyon 1-1 Angers
Angers picked up an important point away at high-flying Lyon, to dent Bruno Genesio’s side’s European aspirations.
The relegation contenders opened the scoring after 14 minutes, when Karl Toko Ekambi stroked home from the penalty spot after Jeremy Morel’s foul on Angelo Fulgini.
But back came Lyon just after the restart, when Nabil Fekir fired home Maxwel Cornet’s clever piece of trickery at the front post to equalise.
However, despite continued pressure throughout the second half from the home side, they couldn’t find a way through and were forced to share the spoils.
Nantes 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain moved one step close to the Ligue 1 title, after a 1-0 victory at fifth place Nantes.
Angel di Maria poked home to secure the three points, in a game marred by unusual controversy including referee Tony Chapron. Nantes midfielder Diego Carlos ran across the referee and accidentally knocked the official over in the second half, but Chapron appeared to kick out at the player while on the ground.
And to make matter worse, the man in the middle then controversially showed Carlos his second yellow card after words were exchanged.
But the bizarre piece of officiating doesn’t take away from another solid performance from Unai Emery’s side, as they tighten their grip on the Ligue 1 top spot for another week.