Auxerre hold off Rennes
© AFP

Auxerre recovered from their stunning 5-0 defeat against bottom club Grenoble to bolster their push for a European place with a 1-0 win at home to Rennes on Saturday.

Grenoble's win last weekend was only the south-east club's second league win of the season, but Jean Fernandez's men returned to winning ways in mid-week by beating Plabennec 4-0 to reach the French Cup quarter-finals.

Polish striker Ireneusz Jelen was the hero against third-tier Plabennec with three goals and he proved the match-winner again on Sunday against Rennes. The 28-year-old was a threat to the visitors' defence throughout the first half and claimed his reward three minutes from half-time, sweeping home from 35 yards after Rennes goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez fluffed his clearance.

Rennes's last league outing was a superb 4-2 victory over league leaders Bordeaux, but the hero of that match, Sylvain Marveaux, spurned a late chance to equalise when he fired off target from 12 yards.

"We dominated the first half with lots of chances and one goal," said Auxerre midfielder Delvin NDinga. "In the second half it was much more difficult for us, but the team is strong and Jelen's goal just before half-time came at the right moment to push us towards victory."

Auxerre climb one place to sixth in the standings, level on 42 points with fifth-placed Marseille and six points behind Bordeaux, while Rennes stay eighth, six points outside the European places.

In Sunday's other early game, Lorient drew 1-1 at home to Toulouse. Top scorer Kevin Gameiro gave Lorient a 56th-minute lead but Toulouse drew level through a fine volley by Norwegian winger Daniel Braaten 12 minutes from time. Lorient remain ninth in the table, with Toulouse holding onto 11th place.

Bordeaux will seek to re-open a three-point gap at the top of the table when they host fifth-bottom Saint Etienne in Sunday's late game. Second-placed Montpellier drew level on points at the summit with a 1-0 win over Grenoble on Saturday, when there were also wins for title contenders Lille, Lyon and Marseille.