A quickfire first-half brace and late sealer from Alexandre Lacazette earned Lyon their second win of the season at home to Toulouse on Sunday, as Nice benefitted from a late goalkeeping error to beat Reims 2-1.
Lyon captain Lacazette fired his side to a 3-0 victory against 15th-placed Toulouse, allowing them to reduce the gap from safety to three points.
The hat-trick from the former Arsenal man earned Ligue 1’s bottom club an invaluable win in the race for survival against the side just above the relegation zone.
“It’s a relief to be able to score, to be useful to the team in the way that’s expected of me. It makes you feel a bit lighter,” said Lacazette.
“We’re still in the same position (last), but we’re going to take it one step at a time, stay humble and keep working.”
A saved penalty at the end of the first period had offered Toulouse a lifeline, but they did not seize it on a day that Lyon stalwarts Anthony Lopes and Lacazette showed their quality.
Lyon’s first win since the sacking of coach Fabio Grosso moved the seven-times French champions up to 10 points, just three behind their opponents.
Two goals in four minutes just before the half-hour mark sent Lyon on their way to an impressive win at the Groupama Stadium.
In the 25th minute, Lacazette opened the scoring following a Jake O’Brien header from a corner.
He then doubled the lead minutes later when Corentin Tolisso’s volley came back off the post, allowing him to a nab a poacher’s second.
The home team looked to be heading into the break comfortably ahead, until Lopes took out Gabriel Suazo in the box on the stroke of half-time.
The shotstopper immediately redeemed himself when he guessed rightly at the resulting spot-kick and plunged down low to stop Thijs Dallinga from halving the deficit.
Lyon defended stoutly in the second period and looked to have ensured a very important three points at a crucial moment in the season.
Their captain then put the icing on the cake 10 minutes from time, when he was once again perfectly positioned to pounce on a blocked shot in the six-yard box and hammer home his, and his side’s, third of the day.
– Handling error gives Nice win –
A late mistake from Reims goalkeeper Yehvann Diouf gave Nice a slightly lucky 2-1 win as they leapfrogged Monaco back into the top two.
Eight minutes from time and with the match poised neatly at 1-1, Diouf, who had an otherwise outstanding day, allowed a speculative shot from Ivorian forward Jeremie Boga to slide through his hands and trickle into the net.
“It’s infuriating, it’s frustrating, it annoys me, but that’s football! Just as I can make mistakes, so can the players,” said Reims coach Will Still.
Gaetan Laborde had initially put Nice ahead in the 55th minute only for Reims captain Yunis Abdelhamid to level in the 78th minute.
The victory takes Nice second, just four points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who beat Nantes 2-1 on Saturday.
They are now two points ahead of Monaco who bounced past them with a 2-1 win at Rennes, also on Saturday.
Marseille put themselves firmly back in European contention after a thrilling 4-2 win at lowly Lorient.
Chancel Mbemba and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck inside the first 10 minutes and Leonardo Balerdi scored a third in the 33rd minute for the visitors.
Lorient pulled one back four minutes before the break thanks to Romain Faivre, but the in-form Aubameyang netted again just one minute later.
Former Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy scored his first for Lorient seven minutes after half-time, but the home side could not force a comeback despite Jonathan Clauss’ red card 10 minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Clermont played out at a goalless home draw with Lille and now sit just one point above Lyon.
A 97th-minute winner from Abakar Sylla earned Strasbourg a crucial 2-1 win at home to Le Havre, moving them up to 10th place.
A Jeremy Le Douaron 75th-minute strike gave Brest a 1-0 win at Metz.