Marseille struck twice in the opening 19 minutes and then cruised to a 2-0 home win against Montpellier on Sunday evening, reclaiming second place in Ligue 1.
Amine Harit cut in from the right, drew goalie Jonas Omlin, and then sent the ball across the six-yard box to Bamba Dieng, who blasted into an empty net after nine minutes.
Ten minutes later, Dieng earned the penalty that extended Marseille’s advantage.
Dieng had a yard of space thanks to Gerson’s excellent backheel, but Jordan Ferri chopped him down. The penalty kick was converted by Cengiz Under.
Omlin was sent off in extra time, but the game had already ended.
Marseille earned confidence from a fourth consecutive league victory at the start of a challenging week.
They head to Greece on Thursday to preserve a one-goal advantage against PAOK in Thessaloniki in an already tense Europa Conference League encounter.
On Sunday, they face fierce rivals and league leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
“These wins give us impetus,” Marseille manager Jorge Sampaoli remarked.
“Now we must rest and hope to have some guys available for Thursday. Then there’s the game on Sunday, with just a few days to prepare.”
Earlier in the day, Strasbourg’s chances of catching Marseille were dashed when they dropped a last-minute equalizer against Lyon.
Ibrahima Sissoko scored the home team’s 20th goal after a hilarious mix-up in the home defense that also forced goalie Anthony Lopes off injured.
Karl Toko Ekambi equalized in the 90th minute, but the 1-1 draw on the European Parliament’s home ground left Lyon in 10th place and even farther away from a spot in Europe.
Fifth-placed Nice fell farther behind in the hunt for a Champions League berth after losing 3-0 against Lens, who played nearly 70 minutes with 10 men.
Nice coach Christophe Galtier chastised his players for “showing up like tourists.”
On the other end of the table, Bordeaux overcame an eight-match losing streak by defeating relegation rivals Metz 3-1 on Sunday to gain their first victory under coach David Guion and move off the bottom of Ligue 1.
Metz grabbed the lead in the first half thanks to Didier Lamkel Ze, who had been on loan at the Russian side Khimki before the invasion of Ukraine.
M’Baye Niang put Bordeaux ahead after Ricardo Mangas equalized early in the second half.
“Relief is hardly the word,” Bordeaux coach David Guion said.
Hwang Ui-jo scored a late third as Bordeaux climbed level with Metz in the bottom two and within a point of Saint-Etienne in the relegation play-offs.
Clermont sits one point ahead of Saint-Etienne in 17th after Paris Saint-Germain thrashed them 6-1 on Saturday, with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar both scoring hat-tricks for the league leaders.
Monaco sets its sights on Europe
Monaco strengthened their chances of playing in Europe next season with a 2-1 win against Troyes, thanks to goals from Caio Henrique and Kevin Volland.
Nantes drew 1-1 against Brest after a 10-minute delay caused by crowd disturbance in the second half.
The visitors took the lead following a goal by Randal Kolo Muani, however, the game was momentarily halted when away supporters threw flares into the field.
A second, lengthier stoppage occurred soon after halftime when a small group of Brest fans tried to enter the field and attack Nantes fans. One of them was subsequently detained.
The referee sent the teams to the locker rooms. Brendan Chardonnet scrambled the ball in at a corner when they returned to gain Brest a point.