Marseille boosted their hopes of European qualification as two goals in three minutes from Mickael Pagis gave them victory over St Etienne. Marseille
could have opened the scoring in only the second minute when Toifilou Maoulida crossed for Franck Ribery but his first-time shot was well over the
However, the next chance fell to St Etienne and Portuguese striker Helder Postiga may well feel he should have given the visitors the lead, but Fabien
Barthez saved his close-range effort after good build-up play from Herita Ilunga. Pagis then took over to put Marseille in control. His first goal was
a superb 17th-minute free-kick that was aimed under the jumping wall and tucked just inside the post. Two minutes later, the 32-year-old striker,
signed from Strasbourg in January, got up to head Taye Taiwo's cross in at the near post.
A late strike by Abdulkader Keita salvaged a point for Lille at Nantes to keep them above Auxerre in third place. The hosts had taken the lead in the
seventh minute through Julio-Hernan Rossi but were denied victory by Keita's 84th-minute equaliser. Nantes will therefore be relieved they are in no
desperate need for points as they lie in 14th place, well clear of relegation and well short of challenging for a UEFA Cup spot.
Elsewhere Le Mans boosted their chances of playing in Europe next season thanks to an injury-time strike from substitute Libano Grafite that saw off
Strasbourg. Amara Diane scored an 18th minute opener for the hosts but Le Mans equalised with Ismael Bangoura's early second-half strike.
Relegation-threatened Strasbourg were within touching distance of a point when Grafite bundled in the winner which has left Le Mans sixth - six points
behind third-placed Lille.
On Saturday Lyon swept past lowly Metz 4-0 on Saturday to move closer to a fifth consecutive Ligue 1 crown. Florent Malouda put Gerard Houllier's men
on their way with an 11th-minute strike and after John Carew doubled the advantage soon after, Malouda got his second to leave Metz trailing in their
wake. Patrick Muller added the fourth with a 90th-minute strike to seal the victory. With a quarter-final against AC Milan in the Champions League to
play on March 29, Lyon should have no problem fixing their attention on that tie as they are nine points clear in Ligue 1.
Bordeaux are their nearest challengers and at least they did not lose ground after a 2-0 win over Toulouse. Carlos Henrique and Lilian Laslandes'
penalty kick secured the victory.
Auxerre took advantage of a chance to move level with idle Lille in third place by beating Nice 2-0. Kanga Akale and Rene Bolf scored the goals in the
second half as they climbed to 50 points - 15 behind Lyon.
Lens are fifth after a 1-0 triumph over Troyes, courtesy of Daniel Cousin's strike a minute before half-time.
Ajaccio are looking like relegation fodder after falling 3-0 at Rennes. The Corsicans are bottom of the standings - seven adrift of safety.
In other games on Saturday, Paris St Germain travelled to Nancy and had to settle for a 1-1 draw and Monaco beat visiting Sochaux 4-1.