Montpellier on track, Saint-Etienne sink Nice
© AFP

Montpellier kept the heat on Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain with a 1-0 win over Olympique Marseille, who suffered their first loss in two months as they failed to make it four wins on the trot.

A Souleymane Diawara header - into his own net under pressure - decided a closely fought affair just after the hour mark to lift Montpellier on to 30 points, behind PSG only on goal difference albeit having played a game more. The Parisians will hope to move clear once more tomorrow when they host struggling Nancy at the Parc des Princes.

However, Montpellier, who bagged the points before a sellout crowd to overturn a poor recent record against Marseille, are making PSG work to stay ahead of the pack despite the southerners losing 3-0 at home to the table-toppers from the capital in September.

"Maybe we didn't play our best tonight," admitted Montpellier coach Rene Girard, whose team has never won the championship with third their best ever finish 14 seasons ago. "But we were solid and got the three points so we continue on our adventure."

We were solid and got the three points so we continue on our adventure.
Rene Girard, Montpellier coach

Meanwhile, Saint-Etienne, whose glory days were back in the 1970s with the likes of Michel Platini leading the charge, secured a 2-0 win at eight-man Nice which propelled Les Verts into the top half of the table and sent their southern hosts into the drop zone.

Nice saw their six-match unbeaten run come to an emphatic end as they had Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, Eric Mouloungui and Renato Civelli dismissed in a nightmare start for new coach Rene Marsiglia, who was just handed the job in place of Eric Roy.

The visitors had a penalty from former Liverpool fringe player Florent Sinama-Pongolle and a first career goal from young defender Kurt Zouma to thankas they moved up to eighth.

Lorient fall to Evian
In other action, Lorient saw their hopes of vaulting into the top six suffer a blow after a 2-1 loss at promoted Evian, who are holding their own just two points behind Marseille. Caen, meanwhile, failed to overtake Lorient after they were held 2-2 at bottom club Ajaccio.

Bordeaux, whom France coach Laurent Blanc led to the title three seasons ago, went down 2-0 at Dijon, who pushed their visitors into the bottom six.

On Friday, reigning champions Lille and fellow title hopefuls Lyon lost ground as Lyon lost 2-1 at home to Rennes while Lille drew 0-0 at Toulouse after Moussa Sow missed a penalty. Lille are five points behind PSG, while Lyon trail the leaders by seven points.