By Chris Burke
LOSC Lille Métropole missed the chance to move up to second place in Ligue 1 as their stuttering form continued with a 3-1 defeat at SC Bastia, while AS Monaco FC were held to a goalless draw at home to FC Metz.
Knocked out of the French Cup by second-division Grenoble Foot 38 and without a league victory in five outings, Lille looked to be on track when Mathieu Debuchy handed them the lead after 18 minutes. But relegation-threatened Bastia secured a precious win with strikes from Youssouf Hadji, Stéphane Ziani and Romain Rocchi, all before the break. The Corsicans climb up into 18th, while Lille stay third, nine points behind leaders Olympique Lyonnais, beaten last night by SM Caen.
Monaco could have leapfrogged Lille, but were held at bay by the northern club's former goalkeeper Grégory Wimbée, despite having striker Ernesto Chevantón back from injury. The draw is a definite blow to Didier Deschamps's side, who had been hoping to build their confidence ahead of the second-leg of their UEFA Champions League tie with PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday - which they trail 1-0.
Fifth-placed AJ Auxerre also slipped up, with Olivier Thomert scoring once and John Utaka twice for 3-1 winners RC Lens. Arnaud Gonzalez netted a late consolation for the visitors, but Auxerre are now a single point ahead of Toulouse FC, who overcame OGC Nice 1-0 at home thanks to Daniel Moreira.
A seventh straight home victory for Stade Rennais FC was marred by a flurry of red cards. Alexander Frei struck his eleventh and 12th goals of the season either side of Kim Källström's effort as Rennes saw off FC Sochaux-Montbéliard 3-0. The home side had Cyril Jeunechamp dismissed, but Sochaux lost Jérémy Menez, Omar Daf and coach Guy Lacombe the same way before Frei's second goal in added time.
Elsewhere, Pauleta hit the winner as Paris Saint-Germain FC made up for losing their grip on the French Cup in midweek with a 1-0 triumph against FC Nantes Atlantique, bottom-club FC Istres succumbed by the same scoreline to FC Girondins de Bordeaux and RC Strasbourg jumped up to 15th after beating AC Ajaccio, also with a single goal. In Sunday's game, victory away to AS Saint-Etienne would pull second-placed Olympique de Marseille within five points of Lyon following their Friday loss.
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