Giovane Elber scored the decisive goal for Olympique Lyonnais as the French champions won 2-1 away at FC Metz to maintain a three-point lead over a Paris Saint-Germain FC side who earlier beat Stade Rennais FC.
Elber headed in in the 75th minute to complete a Lyon comeback after Metz's Toifilou Maoulida opened the scoring in the tenth minute. Juninho Pernambucano equalised in the 23rd minute with a perfect free-kick. Metz, who could have preserved their place in the top flight with a victory, finished the game one man down after defender Franck Beria was sent off late on.
With three games left before the end of the season, Lyon lead the table on 73 points, with PSG second on 70 and AS Monaco FC third on 68. Didier Deschamps's team are at home to Olympique de Marseille on Sunday in a meeting of two European finalists.
Defender Frédéric Dehu headed the only goal at the Parc des Princes on the hour from a Fabrice Fiorèse cross. PSG went close again when Serbo-Montenegrin international Danijel Ljuboja hit the post two minutes after the opener. "For the time being, we're content with being in the top three and almost sure of a Champions League berth next season," said PSG coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
The leading three have left their nearest rivals behind. Fourth-placed FC Sochaux Montbéliard, already sure of a UEFA Cup berth next season after winning the Coupe de Ligue, saw their hopes of Champions League football extinguished by a 3-0 home defeat by RC Lens. AJ Auxerre, who remained fifth, were held 1-1 at home by lowly AC Ajaccio.
The fight against relegation looks as tense as the push for the title with three teams - Toulouse FC, Le Mans UC 72 and Ajaccio - tied on 34 points. Bottom-placed Montpellier Hérault SC, on 30 points, need a miracle to be playing Ligue 1 football next season.