Dimitar Berbatov's delightful goal gave Monaco a 1-0 win against Nice on Sunday to leave Paris Saint-Germain's title celebrations on ice while Ajaccio's relegation was confirmed with defeat at Bastia. Berbatov's nonchalant fifth-minute lob was the only goal of the Cote d'Azur derby at the Stade Louis II and the victory got Claudio Ranieri's side back on track after their shock exit from the Coupe de France to Guingamp at the semi-final stage on Wednesday.
A third successive league win for the principality club means they are now certain to finish in the top three and qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League. They are eight points clear of third-placed Lille, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Marseille, and seven behind leaders PSG, who do not host Evian until Wednesday having beaten Lyon 2-1 in the Coupe de la Ligue final on Saturday night.
The Bulgarian controlled a pass forward from Joao Moutinho on the left of the penalty area near the byline, looked up and nonchalantly lobbed the ball over Nice goalkeeper David Ospina and into the net at the far post for his sixth goal in French football since arriving from Fulham in January. Monaco had chances to increase their advantage in the first half, with Valere Germain striking the post before Ospina was forced into a good save from a free-kick by his compatriot James Rodriguez.
However they could not find a second goal and they were fortunate not to concede an equaliser midway through the second half when Danijel Subasic saved well from substitute Dario Cvitanich and Mathieu Bodmer's header from the resulting corner was blocked by Subasic and then cleared by Mounir Obbadi right on the line.
Ajaccio made the trip across Corsica for the derby against Bastia knowing they had to win to stand any chance of further postponing their inevitable relegation. But a 2-1 loss left them 15 points from safety with only 12 points left to play for.
Their descent to Ligue 2 after three seasons in the topflight caused predictable delight among the fans of their island rivals Bastia. While second-from bottom Valenciennes moved closer to the drop after a 6-2 drubbing by Nantes, Sochaux's hopes of surviving the drop received a huge boost with a 1-0 win at Reims.
That left the club managed since January by Herve Renard, who led Zambia to 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations glory, on 33 points, two behind Coupe de France finalists Guingamp, trounced 5-1 by Bordeaux with Cheik Diabate bagging a first half hat-trick.
In an afternoon when goals came thick and fast Lorient and Montpellier shared the spoils in a 4-4 draw.