Aubameyang blocks Rennes' path to summit
Rennes were prevented from going joint-top in Ligue 1 on Sunday when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's second-half header earned Saint-Etienne a 1-1 draw at Stade de la Route de Lorient.
Despite an enterprising start by the visitors, Rennes took the lead just before half-time when Youssouf Hadji pounced on a rebound after Stephane Ruffier had saved from Jonathan Pitroipa.
Julien Feret set Pitroipa free early in the second half but he lobbed over and moments later Saint-Etienne equalised when on-loan AC Milan forward Aubameyang met Fabien Lemoine's left-wing cross with an emphatic header.
Victory would have put Rennes level on points with Lyon, Paris Saint-Germain and Toulouse at the league summit, but the point left them in fifth place ahead of Atletico Madrid's Europa League visit on Thursday.
Saint-Etienne climbed one place to 11th.
Earlier, Kenyan forward Dennis Oliech exploited Sochaux's defensive fragility to claim his first Ligue 1 hat-trick as Auxerre came from behind to win 4-1 at Stade Abbe-Deschamps.
Beaten 6-2 at home by Rennes on Wednesday, Sochaux made a quick start and went ahead in the second minute when Yassine Mikari lofted a ball behind the Auxerre defence that Modibo Maiga tucked away.
However, Sochaux's porousness became evident in the second half, with quick-fire goals from top scorer Alain Traore and Oliech turning the match on its head.
Traore claimed his sixth goal of the season in the 51st minute, with Oliech making it 2-1 barely a minute later after Sochaux goalkeeper Teddy Richert fluffed an attempted clearance just outside his area.
Static defending enabled Oliech to fire home in the 63rd minute, after his initial shot had been saved by Richert, before he completed his hat-trick four minutes later by converting Traore's left-wing centre.
"The coach (Laurent Fournier) changed things around at the break," explained Traore, Ligue 1's top scorer alongside Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis.
"We started pressing Sochaux higher up the pitch, capitalising on the gaps in their defence. And it worked well."
Victory lifted Auxerre above Sochaux and Dijon into ninth place, demoting Sochaux to 12th.
The basement battle between Brest and Ajaccio ended in a 1-1 draw, leaving both teams in the bottom three.
Lyon put their mid-week 1-0 loss to Caen behind them on Saturday when they overwhelmed Bordeaux 3-1, with Gomis on target twice and in-form Michel Bastos claiming his second goal of the season.
A well-worked Umut Bulut goal saw Toulouse edge Nancy 1-0, while PSG confirmed their title credentials with an impressive 3-0 victory at former leaders Montpellier.
Record signing Javier Pastore found the net twice, slamming home a fine volley in the 43rd minute to make it 2-0 before capitalising on an error from goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren to seal the win 10 minutes from time.
Lyon and Paris, who have identical records, meet at Parc des Princes next weekend in what will be the first major test of PSG's nascent title aspirations.
Joe Cole opened his Lille account with a stunning 25-yard shot against Lorient, but an injury-time equaliser from Kevin Monnet-Paquet saw the defending champions held to a fourth straight draw in all competitions.
Marseille were also undone by a stoppage-time goal, with Jose Saez's last-gasp equaliser earning Valenciennes a 1-1 draw that left Didier Deschamps' under-performing side in 13th place.
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