Champions Lyon dropped two precious points in an entertaining 1-1 draw with visitors Rennes on 1 March, boosting Paris Saint-Germain's unlikely bid for a first league title in 19 years. PSG had earlier closed the gap with a commanding 4-1 win over Nancy, which moved them back up to second place. They are now four points behind the champions.
After a frustrating first half in which both sides spurned chances, Lyon looked to have re-established their six-point lead through an unstoppable Kim Kallstrom goal in the 66th minute. However, Rennes, pulled level in the last minute with Jimmy Briand finally finding the net after failing to convert a host of chances in the game.
Rennes had the ball in the Lyon net as early as the tenth minute, only for the referee to disallow Carlos Bocanegra's header due to the American defender's foul on Lyon defender John Mensah. Both sides enjoyed chances at breaking the deadlock, but Lyon emerged for the second period especially fired up.
A minute after the restart, Ederson coasted onto a Karim Benzema pass before unleashing a shot which took a deflection off the Rennes upright. Two minutes later, Briand gave Rennes a glimmer of hope as he ran down on goal, only for Mensah to come to Lyon's rescue. Ederson threatened again almost immediately, the Brazilian finishing off a smart move between Juninho, Abdulkader Keita and Benzema with a sublime, angled shot with the outside of his boot, which coasted just over Nicolas Douchez's crossbar.
Rennes then missed arguably the chance of the match when Swedish captain Petter Hansson picked up a loose ball from a freekick in the six yard box, only to send his shot over the crossbar. A double substitution by Lyon coach Claude Puel then proved inspirational, with Miralem Pjanic replacing Ederson and Jean II Makoun coming on for Juninho in the 62nd minute.
Three minutes later, Pjanic picked up Benzema's pass on the right and his cross reached the back post where Kallstrom made no mistake beating Douchez. Briand was guilty of wasting another golden chance on 68 minutes, his shot from another one-on-one with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris going wide of the post. Rennes maintained the pressure and it finally paid off when Briand pounced on a deflection from Hansson to beat Lloris from close range.
Marseille, Bordeaux, PSG keep the pressure on
Earlier, Marseille kept in contention with a 1-0 win away to Caen, while Bordeaux made sure they stayed in the chase with a 1-0 win at home to Lorient. A brace from striker Guillaume Hoarau, either side of Ludovic Giuly's 13th-minute strike, gave PSG a 3-1 half-time lead after Julien Ferret had briefly reduced the arrears for Nancy in the 29th minute. A fourth goal from Stephane Sessegnon after the interval put a share of the points firmly beyond Nancy's reach.
But despite the convincing win, and with his side in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup, PSG coach Paul Le Guen believes PSG will face a testing few weeks. "I'm a little worried because there's not a lot of room for manoeuvre in the squad and we will lose Claude Makelele and Stephane Sessegnon through suspension for some important matches," he said. "Also, we will be without Gregory Bourillon who is injured for a few more weeks."