Champions League hopefuls Lille snapped a five match winless run on Saturday as they beat lowly Sochaux 2-0, while Marseille helped their European prospects by easing past Bastia 3-0 in Ligue 1.
Eighteen-year-old Divock Origi stabbed home amidst a goalmouth scramble after just three minutes at the Stade Pierre Mauroy before Ryan Mendes added a second goal in second-half stoppage time to strengthen Lille's grip on third place.
For Belgian youth international Origi it was his first goal since the opening weekend of the season, while Cape Verde striker Mendes rounded off a clinical counterattack to belatedly get his campaign up and running as Rene Girard's men moved three points clear of Saint-Etienne.
Earlier, Marseille gave their European aspirations a timely boost as they cruised to a 3-0 home win over Bastia.
Dimitri Payet struck twice in the first half before Andre-Pierre Gignac added his 11th of the campaign after the break to keep Marseille fifth, five points adrift of Lille.
With Marseille out of both domestic cup competitions, the league represents the only avenue to European football next term for Jose Anigo's side, who appear to be trending upwards after a third win in five.
"We mastered our subject. We did what we needed to do by scoring very quickly and then killing off the match with the second goal," said Gignac afterwards.
"We scored three goals without conceding any, that's the most important thing.
"Since the end of December, we have scored an average of two goals per match. It's good and today we also kept a clean sheet."
Successive victories had seen Bastia looking to break into the top half of the table at the Stade Velodrome but the visitors fell behind on 13 minutes as Payet exchanged passes with Gignac before scuffing a shot that deceived goalkeeper Mickael Landreau.
There was little the league's record appearance maker could do about Payet's second though as the winger curled in a sumptuous long-range effort on 25 minutes to take his season's tally to seven.
Landreau prevented Marseille from increasing their lead as he turned a Gignac effort round the post before the burly striker headed over from a Benjamin Mendy cross.
Wahbi Khazri came close to reducing the deficit two minutes after half-time when he fired against the outside of the post but Bastia's day was to get worse shortly after as Landreau limped off with an ankle injury.
His replacement Jean-Louis Leca's first task was to pick the ball out of the net as Gignac netted Marseille's third on 55 minutes, slotting home the rebound after Giannelli Imbula's venomous 25-yard strike cannoned back off the crossbar.
Florian Thauvin missed a glorious chance to add his name to the scoresheet just after the hour mark following another Mendy delivery but it mattered little as Marseille strolled to victory.
Basement side Ajaccio picked up just their second win of the season after beating Rennes 3-1, while fellow relegation candidates Valenciennes collected three vital points following a 2-1 victory at home to Nice.
Elsewhere, Reims came behind to defeat Guingamp 2-1, while Remy Cabella was on target as 10-man Montpellier drew 1-1 with Evian TG.
Leaders Paris Saint-Germain travel to title rivals Monaco on Sunday in a top of the table clash at the Stade Louis II, while two of France's most storied clubs, Nantes and Lyon, meet at the Stade de la Beaujoire.
Bordeaux's home fixture against Lorient has been called off after heavy rain left the pitch at the Stade Chaban-Delmas unplayable.