(Reuters) - Olympique Lyonnais moved up to second in Ligue 1 and within nine points of leaders Paris St Germain with a 2-1 win at Caen thanks to goals by Maxwell Cornet and Mariano on Sunday.
Olympique Marseille were held to a 1-1 draw at Montpellier in the late game and are in fourth spot level on 32 points with Lyon and third-placed champions Monaco.
In Sunday’s early match, St Etienne had to settle for a 1-1 home draw with Nantes after conceding a second-half equaliser and surviving a late onslaught by the visitors.
Cornet fired Lyon ahead when he swept home a loose ball in the 10th minute and Mariano scored his 12th league goal of the season with a thumping first-time volley after the break.
Caen, who missed their best chance in the 26th minute when left back Adama Mbenge’s mis-hit cross hit the inside of the post, got a late consolation through Croatian striker Ivan Santini as they slipped one place to seventh.
Marseille struggled at Montpellier, who boast the league’s best defensive record with only nine goals conceded, and deservedly fell behind on the half-hour mark.
Forward Giovanni Sio gave the hosts the lead with an acrobatic volley that bounced in front of Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda, who was at fault after making two good saves in the opening 20 minutes.
The visitors were awarded a harsh penalty on the stroke of halftime as an innocuous shot struck Montpellier centre back Hilton’s arm, with Florian Thauvin drilling in the spot-kick amid a chorus of jeers from the home fans.
But Marseille were unable to complete the comeback and move even closer to PSG, who suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at lowly Strasbourg on Saturday.
St Etienne midfielder Vincent Pajot scored the goal of the day with a thunderbolt into the top corner from 30 metres after 38 minutes against Nantes, but the hosts were fortunate to scrape a draw after fizzling out in the second half.
Nantes striker Emiliano Sala had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside before scoring a bizarre equaliser just past the hour when a clearance by Leo Lacroix struck him in the head and ricocheted into the net.
Santy Ngom missed a gilt-edged chance for Nantes in the final minute of stoppage time after heading over the bar from seven metres with only goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier to beat.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris