Lyon, looking to win the French title for the first time in five seasons, went top of the heap on Saturday with a 2-1 win at Troyes propelling them ahead of big spenders Paris Saint Germain.
Lyon shrugged off the embarrassment of a Cup exit in midweek to third division Epinal after Maxime Gonalons and Samuel Umtiti, at the second attempt, found the net from two well-rehearsed corner routines - one from Steed Malbranque, the other from Arnold Mvuemba.
Benjamin Nivet gave Troyes brief hope with a fine volley sandwiching the two goals for the visitors, but this latest reverse leaves them six points from safety after only two wins in their opening 20 league matches.
Remi Garde's men now lead the table by two points after inconsistent PSG yet again frustrated their fans Friday with a goalless stalemate at home to Ajaccio.
Lyon should have won by a wider margin but Lisandro saw his effort deflected to safety at the last by Yohann Thuram-Ullien following a cross from the right by Michel Bastos midway through the first half.
Later Saturday, Rennes were out to close the gap to third-placed Marseille to three points with a win over Bordeaux who could join their Breton hosts in the event of a win.
Marseille, the 2010 champions, can join Lyon on 41 points if they win at relegation-threatened Sochaux on Sunday.
Lorient, seven points adrift of Marseille, were at defending champions Montpellier, who have struggled this term and were thumped at Lille just before the winter break.
Rock-bottom Nancy were also in action later Saturday, taking on a Lille side who have designs on the top four.