Lyon beat rivals Saint-Etienne to go five clear
Lyon opened up a five-point gap at the summit of Ligue 1 on Sunday with a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Saint-Etienne in the Rhone derby, as title-challengers Marseille slumped to a 3-0 defeat at home to Lorient.
Lyon had Mouhamadou Dabo sent off 11 minutes after half-time, but Michel Bastos' powerful free-kick midway through the second period secured all three points for the visitors at a raucous Stade Geoffroy-Guichard as Alejandro Alonso was dismissed late on for Saint-Etienne.
The result moved Remi Garde's side five points clear of chasing Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille, leaving Saint-Etienne three points further adrift in fourth.
"A victory at Geoffroy-Guichard, that always fills you with joy. I'm also happy because we overcame the red card. There was a lot of self-sacrifice, the team stayed structurally and mentally very strong," said Lyon manager Garde.
"Three points is a good outcome but we have to back it up against Nancy (on Wednesday)," he added.
Lyon goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre raced off his line to block from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a cagey first-half, while Anthony Reveillere's dinked effort that drifted just wide of the post represented the away side's best opportunity in the opening period.
Lyon were then reduced to 10-men as Dabo was shown a straight red on 56 minutes for head-butting Max Gradel in the midriff in retaliation for the Ivorian appearing to catch Dabo in the face with his boot following a challenge near the half-way line.
But suspect goalkeeping from Stephane Ruffier allowed Garde's men to take the lead on 65 minutes as Bastos rifled a 30-yard free-kick straight down the middle of the goal beyond the flummoxed keeper.
Francois Clerc came close to an equaliser against his former employers, shooting just wide before Loic Perrin sent a header narrowly over Vercoutre's crossbar.
Saint-Etienne also finished the game with 10-men after Alonso needlessly collected two bookings in quick succession, the second five minutes from time as Lyon held on to claim a fourth win in five matches and snap their opponents' 10-match unbeaten run.
Earlier, Lorient climbed to eighth in the table after recording just a second win on their travels since the opening game of last season.
Jeremie Aliadiere scored a first-half penalty as Marseille's Charles Kabore was dismissed for a second yellow card after fouling the former Arsenal striker in the box.
Lorient's second arrived two minutes after the break as Benjamin Corgnet steered Alain Traore's cross beyond Steve Mandanda, the ball looping over the helpless France reserve keeper following a deflection off Jeremy Morel.
A string of fine saves from Lorient keeper Fabien Audard to deny Morgan Amalfitano, Nicolas N'Koulou and Souleymane Diawara kept the away side's two-goal lead intact before Kevin Monnet-Pacquet added a third on 70 minutes, drilling low into the corner from the top of the box to complete the misery for Elie Baup's men.
"Everything went against us, we didn't have any luck. There was the penalty conceded by Charles. I was also told there was a penalty that could have been given in our favour," said midfielder Joey Barton.
"And then the second goal came from a deflection. That was difficult, we were chasing the score and we weren't able to do much," he added.
Reims also saw their winless run extended to eight matches following a goalless draw at home to sixth-placed Bordeaux.