A hat-trick by in-form Gabonese international striker Pierre-Eyemrick Aubameyang inspired St. Etienne to a 4-2 victory over Ligue 1 rivals Lorient today.
The treble from the 22-year-old - joint leading scorer at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations - and an own goal by Bruno Ecuele-Manga saw them to their third successive victory and bang in contention for a place in next season's UEFA Champions League.
The three points took them into fourth spot, three points behind champions Lille who scraped a fortunate 1-0 win away at luckless bottom side Sochaux.
Winter transfer window signing Nolan Roux broke the deadlock in the 76th minute with a fine header for his fifth goal since his arrival from Brest.
Lille are six points adrift of leaders Paris Saint Germain.
Former champions Auxerre's relegation worries deepened as they went down 2-1 away at Caen to leave them third bottom.