Paris Saint Germain gave notice that they are becoming a force to be reckoned with again in France by handing reigning champions Lyon a 1-0 defeat at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
Ludovic Giuly netted the only goal midway through the first half and PSG held on to vault into the top five as Lyon ended the contest with ten men, Brazilian stalwart Juninho being dismissed in the closing stages.
After their second loss of the campaign, Lyon lead second-placed Nice by five points with Marseille, Rennes and PSG in contention two points further back.
To add insult to injury, the seven-time champions, who lost to PSG for the first time in 12 meetings, will be without defender Anthony Reveillere, who was reported to have snapped knee ligaments after he was forced to go off in the tenth minute, against Fiorentina in the UEFA Champions League next week. He was replaced by teen Thimothee Kolodziejczak.
Former Monaco, Barcelona and Roma man Giuly nodded home from a probing Ceara cross for his third goal of the season to galvanise a 48,000 crowd, who hoped for but didn't get a spot kick when Kolodziejczak then appeared to push Giuly in his next sortie into the box.
Lyon coach Claude Puel opted to start Swede Kim Kallstrom instead of skipper Juninho, and when the Brazilian did make his grand entrance at a venue where Lyon last season took the points in a 3-2 victory, he only lasted 17 minutes before seeing red after lashing out at Sylvain Armand. That took the heat off the hosts, who easily held out for the points.
Chinks of light
Former giants St Etienne earlier sank to the foot of the league after their seventh straight league loss, 1-0 at home to Nice, although coach Alain Perrin insisted he saw some chinks of light despite Olivier Echouafni's headed winner.
"We're very frustrated of course - but I saw some encouraging signs. We can get out of this," insisted coach Alain Perrin, who took over from sacked Laurent Roussey but has now overseen a 3-0 thumping at Lille and the Nice reverse.
"We didn't deserve this. We have to keep working hard, and if we keep playing like we did tonight we will gain some reward," added the former Lyon and Portsmouth boss.
St Etienne, where Michel Platini, now UEFA president, made his name in the 1970s and early 1980s, have lost 11 of 15 league games and scored just eight goals all season.
Elsewhere, UEFA Cup aspirants Bordeaux and Rennes parted 1-1 in the southwest. Yoann Gourcuff, who had promised that the Girondins would bounce back from last week's loss at Lyon which put a major crimp in Bordeaux's title hopes, netted against his former club to save a point after Olivier Thomert had put Rennes into a 20th-minute lead.
The point at least enabled Rennes to move level on points with Marseille, with Bordeaux a point further back and exiting the top five following PSG's win.
Toulouse missed a chance to keep pace with Nice after they slid to a 1-0 loss at a Lorient side which last week stunned Marseille by winning a five-goal thriller at the Stade Velodrome. This time Gameiro was on hand 15 minutes from time to secure the points for the Bretons, who consolidated their mid-table status.
On Sunday, Marseille host Lille, lowly Nantes and Nancy face off and mid-table Monaco face Le Mans.