French title rivals Bordeaux and Marseille both overcame scares against lowly opposition on Wednesday but there was a surprise defeat for high-flying Lille.
Bordeaux had to come from a goal down to win 3-1 at 10-man bottom club Grenoble, while Marseille also overcame an early deficit to defeat Le Mans 2-1. Lille, who went into their game at Sochaux on a run of eight straight wins in all competitions, succumbed to a 2-0 reverse - their first since 22 November - while Lyon hit back from 1-0 down to win 3-1 at Lorient.
Bordeaux increase their lead at the summit by a point, with Montpellier climbing to second after winning 1-0 at Lens via a late Victor Montano effort. Lille fall to third, a place above Marseille, who trail Bordeaux by 11 points with a game in hand and lead Lyon, fifth, Monaco, sixth, and Auxerre, seventh, on goal difference.
Grenoble produced a storming first-half showing against Bordeaux and took the lead in first-half injury-time when home skipper Laurent Batlles cracked an unstoppable strike into the top-right corner from 22 yards. But Bordeaux, held 1-1 at home to Marseille in their last outing, were gifted a foothold in the game when Grenoble midfielder Jimmy Juan was shown a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Jussie barely two minutes after the break. In less than 10 minutes the champions were ahead.
Left-back Benoit Tremoulinas set up Yoan Gouffran for the equaliser, with Marouane Chamakh heading home Benoit Chalme's centre in the 56th minute and Fernando Cavenaghi making sure of the points seven minutes from time. "The score of 3-1 was a bit flattering," conceded Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc. "And even though I'm disappointed by the manner of victory, it was a good result in terms of the table."
Third-bottom Le Mans took a shock 16th-minute lead at Marseille through Anthony Le Tallec but captain Mamadou Niang struck twice to earn victory for Didier Deschamps's charges. Lille fell behind in the eighth minute against Sochaux when Damien Perquis headed in from a corner and three minutes later Stephane Dalmat made it 2-0 by finishing off a one-man counter-attack with a sumptuous lob.
The visitors spurned the chance to pull one back before half-time when Yohan Cabaye saw his penalty pushed away by Sochaux goalkeeper Teddy Richert and although Robert Vittek did reduce the arrears, Lille were unable to prevent their exhilarating streak of form coming to an end. "The end of our run is irrelevant," said Lille manager Rudi Garcia. "We knew that it wouldn't last until the end of the championship. What's more annoying is that the other teams at the top won."
A brace by Kim Kallstrom, including an opportunist strike from wide on the left touchline, earned Lyon a 3-1 win at Lorient after Lisandro Lopez had cancelled out Pierre Ducasse's 28th-minute opener for the hosts. Elsewhere, Auxerre won 1-0 at Nice with an injury-time goal from Ireneusz Jelen, Toulouse drew 0-0 at home to Nancy and an own goal by goalkeeper Apoula Edel consigned Paris Saint-Germain to a 1-0 defeat at home to Monaco. "We could have played for three hours without scoring," said PSG coach Antoine Kombouare after a match that his side largely dominated.
Valenciennes climbed into the top half of the table by winning 2-0 at second-bottom Boulogne, now five points from safety, in the late kick-off. In Tuesday's game, relegation-threatened Saint-Etienne were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Rennes.