Posted on Apr 21
Montpellier's forward Souleymane Camara (L) clashes with Valenciennes' defender Mody Traore (R) during their French L1 football match at the Mosson stadium in Montpellier, southern France.

Montpellier pulled five points clear of second-placed Paris Saint-Germain in the Ligue 1 title race with a narrow 1-0 victory at home to Valenciennes on Saturday.

With PSG not in action until they tackle Sochaux at Parc des Princes on Sunday, Rene Girard's side took full advantage by strengthening their grip on top spot ahead of their final five games of the season.

Montpellier took the lead after just five minutes at Stade de la Mosson, with Souleymane Camara kneeing home Younes Belhanda's drilled cross from the right following a short corner.

Belhanda thought he had doubled his side's advantage early in the second half but after he tapped home the rebound from John Utaka's shot, his celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee's offside flag.

There was a sizeable let-off for Montpellier in the 85th minute, as Valenciennes midfielder Renaud Cohade struck the crossbar with a 20-yard shot that very nearly breathed new hope into PSG's title hopes.

Lille's forward Gianni Bruno shoots against Dijon's goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet (L) during their French L1 football match at the Gaston Gerard stadium in Dijon. Lille closed to within two points of PSG and increased their cushion in third place to eight points by winning 2-0 at Dijon.

"It's easier to write that a match will be easy than to win it," said Montpellier coach Girard, whose side visit Toulouse on Friday.

"We know that football matches are never easy. We came up against a Valenciennes team who were disciplined and well organised.

"They didn't leave many gaps and we couldn't always find the solution. But despite everything, we managed to secure what was important."

Defending champions Lille closed to within two points of PSG and increased their cushion in third place to eight points by winning 2-0 at Dijon.

Lille were reduced to 10 men in the 35th minute when Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red card for a foul on Brice Jovial but four minutes later Eden Hazard squared for Rio Mavuba to put the visitors into the lead.

Rennes' midfielder Julien Feret controls the ball during their French L1 football match against Brest at the Francis Le Ble stadium in Brest, western France. Rennes won 1-0.

It was Hazard's 13th assist of the campaign and he took his goal tally to 16 in first-half injury time, coolly rolling the ball past Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet from Nolan Roux's carefully weighted square pass.

Dijon lost their numerical advantage when Abdoulaye Meite was sent off shortly after the interval and a 77th-minute red card for Bennard Kumordzi meant the hosts finished the game with nine men.

"There are five matches left and 15 points at stake," said Lille coach Rudi Garcia. "You never know. But the gap to Montpellier is the same and you have to be realistic. Overtaking them will be very, very complicated.

"We're going to concentrate on PSG's visit next Sunday."

Rennes surged above Lyon and Toulouse into fourth place by winning 1-0 at Brest through a first-half Julien Feret penalty, while Toulouse lost 2-1 at in-form Evian.

Saint-Etienne drew level on points with Lyon and Toulouse by cruising to a 4-1 success at relegation-threatened Caen, with Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice to take his total for the season to 13.

Beaten 3-0 at Toulouse in mid-week, Lyon will bid to get their fading challenge for a top-three finish back on track at home to Lorient on Sunday.

Toulouse's midfielder Moussa Sissoko (L) clashes with Evian's midfielder Olivier Sorlin during their French L1 football match at the Parc des sports stadium in Annecy, central eastern France. Evian won 2-1.

Bottom club Auxerre remain five points adrift of safety after losing 1-0 at Nice and seeing both Dennis Oliech and Willy Boly sent off.

Fabian Monzon's seventh penalty of the season put the hosts ahead in the 36th minute, with Kenyan forward Oliech red-carded for dissent a minute later and Boly dismissed after receiving a second yellow card in the 77th minute.

In Saturday's late game, a Jussie double -- the first of which came after just 27 seconds -- gave Bordeaux a 2-1 win at home to Marseille that condemned Didier Deschamps' beleaguered side to their 12th Ligue 1 game without victory.

Bordeaux reclaimed eighth place from Evian, while OM remain 10th.

Montpellier's forward Souleymane Camara (L) clashes with Valenciennes' defender Mody Traore (R) during their French L1 football match at the Mosson stadium in Montpellier, southern France.

Lille's forward Gianni Bruno shoots against Dijon's goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet (L) during their French L1 football match at the Gaston Gerard stadium in Dijon. Lille closed to within two points of PSG and increased their cushion in third place to eight points by winning 2-0 at Dijon.

Rennes' midfielder Julien Feret controls the ball during their French L1 football match against Brest at the Francis Le Ble stadium in Brest, western France. Rennes won 1-0.

Montpellier's forward Souleymane Camara (L) clashes with Valenciennes' defender Mody Traore (R) during their French L1 football match at the Mosson stadium in Montpellier, southern France.

Lille's forward Gianni Bruno shoots against Dijon's goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet (L) during their French L1 football match at the Gaston Gerard stadium in Dijon. Lille closed to within two points of PSG and increased their cushion in third place to eight points by winning 2-0 at Dijon.

Rennes' midfielder Julien Feret controls the ball during their French L1 football match against Brest at the Francis Le Ble stadium in Brest, western France. Rennes won 1-0.