Paris, Dec 12: Defending champion Lille kept the pressure on Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the French league by beating Dijon 2-0 at home on Sunday.
Striker Moussa Sow and midfielder Eden Hazard scored a goal in each half to help Lille back to winning ways after it failed to reach the next round of the Champions League when it drew 0-0 against Trabzonspor on Wednesday.
Lille is in third place, two points behind Paris Saint-Germain and Montpellier.
After a slow start to the season, Lille's title defense is gathering pace with three straight wins, and coach Rudi Garcia's team can overtake big-spending PSG next Saturday when the teams meet at Parc des Princes.
“Our objective now is to get a really good result in Paris,” Garcia said. “We're going there full of ambition.”
PSG won 1-0 at Sochaux on Saturday, while Montpellier lost 1-0 at Valenciennes.
Montpellier leads PSG on goal difference with both on 36 points. Lille has 34 points and Lyon, which won 1-0 at Lorient on Sunday, is in fourth place with 32. Forward Alexandre Lacazette got Lyon's winner early in the second half.
Lille took the lead in the 16th minute, when fullback Mathieu Debuchy sprinted down the right and whipped over a cross that Sow buried with a powerful header from six yards out, giving goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet no chance.
Sow had the ball in the net moments earlier, but that effort was ruled out because midfielder Joe Cole was ruled to be in an offside position.
Lille took control for most of the first half, but was almost caught out a minute before the break when striker Thomas Guerbert hit the post with a diving header that had beaten goalie Mickael Landreau.
Lille's second goal in the 58th was the result of excellent teamwork.
Hazard burst down the left wing and cut inside the penalty area, swapping passes with Cole and Sow before beating Reynet with a clinical finish from close range. Both Hazard and Sow have six league goals each so far this season.
“We had to bounce back. After our elimination we told ourselves that the best way to lift our heads up as to beat Dijon,” Debuchy said. “This is good for our morale.”
At Lorient, Lyon survived an early penalty claim when Cris tripped striker Kevin Monnet-Paquet and referee Philippe Kalt consulted with his linesman before deciding to give a freekick on the edge of the penalty area.
Croatia defender Dejan Lovren missed a great chance to put Lyon ahead in the 28th, but he headed Yoann Gourcuff's cross straight at goalkeeper Fabien Audard.
Moments after Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris made a save from Joel Campbell, Lacazette put Lyon in front in the 54th, firing the ball home from close range following a goalmouth scramble.
Lyon missed further chances to score a second goal as Jimmy Briand, Bafetimbi Gomis, Lacazette, and Ederson with a dipping freekick, all went close.
“We worked hard but we just couldn't quite get that second goal,” Lyon midfielder Kim Kallstrom said. “We were very surprised that Lorient didn't attack more in the second half, especially as we scored quite early on.”
Lyon rested striker Lisandro Lopez, but the 20-year-old Lacazette filled in well, grabbing his third goal of the season.
“If he keeps going like this he'll have a great future,” Kallstrom said.
Also Sunday, Dennis Oliech scored one goal and made the other as Auxerre moved away from the relegation zone with a 2-1 home win against struggling Nice.
Oliech put Auxerre ahead in the 13th minute with his seventh league goal of the season, but the lead was short-lived as Eric Mouloungui leveled shortly after.
Oliech nipped ahead of defender Fabian Monzon and met Sahar's cross from the left with a header that looped over ‘keeper David Ospina.
Mouloungui's equalizer in the 21st was expertly taken, as he controlled a pass from Renato Civelli with his back to goal, turned and hit a clean strike into the top corner.
Sahar went close to putting Nice ahead in the 63rd only for Ospina to kick his shot away, but Sahar made amends moments later when he headed in Oliech's cross.
The win moved Auxerre up to 13th place, while Nice stays in the relegation zone in 19th.