Brazilian duo Lucas and Marquinhos gave Paris Saint-Germain a 2-0 win at Caen on Wednesday, ending a run of three successive draws and moving the champions into second spot.
The victory was also the perfect tonic ahead of next Tuesday’s mouth-watering Champions League duel against Barcelona in Paris.
The win, their first since early August and first away from home this season, put PSG three points behind leaders and bitter rivals Marseille in the Ligue 1 table.
Despite missing star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a heel injury, PSG still had too much class for Caen.
Lucas put them 1-0 up after 17 minutes, easily brushing off two defenders before firing home from 10 metres past Remy Vercoutre in the Caen goal.
Fellow Brazilian Marquinhos added the second 10 minutes into the second half when he headed in a corner from Jean-Christophe Bahebeck with the ball evading the desperate attempts of N’Golo Kante to clear.
“Our level of play isn’t of the same brilliance as last year, but we are getting closer to it, little by little,” said PSG coach Laurent Blanc.
“Physically we are not at the top, but we dug in a little more in the second half than in the first. We still made chances.”
Lille slumped to their first Ligue 1 defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss at Nice shattering their hopes of moving into second place.
It was Lille’s first away setback since February when Nice also got the better of them, also by a single goal.
On Wednesday, it was their former player Mathieu Bodmer who secured Nice’s third home win of the season with a 41st minute header from a corner.
Lille are fifth in the table, four points off the lead.
Lyon, the seven-time champions, were the night’s biggest winners with a 4-0 home win against Lorient.
Nabil Fekir scored twice with Alexandre Lacazette and 21-year-old Clinton N’Jie also on target.
Highly-rated Cameroon star N’Jie had earlier signed a new five-year deal with Hubert Fournier’s side and marked the occasion in style with his first goal for the club.
AS Monaco, last season’s runners-up, recorded their third win in three games to shake off their early season slump which had seen them slip to bottom place.
After a Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen and a 1-0 win against Guingamp, Monaco needed a stoppage time winner from substitute Valere Germain to beat Montpellier.
Monaco are now comfortably in mid-table with 10 points from seven games.
“We had to wait until injury time to score, but the win was deserved,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim.
“Monaco were the better team in the first half and second half. We showed a lot of quality, controlled the match and had lots of chances. We were the justified winners of the match.”
On Tuesday, Marseille picked up their fifth straight victory as top scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac claimed a double in a 5-0 thrashing of Reims.
Gignac could even afford the luxury of a missed eighth-minute penalty, before scoring two first-half goals while Ghana international Andre Ayew also struck twice at the Stade Auguste Delaune.
The win took Marcelo Bielsa’s side three points clear at the top although either Saint-Etienne or Bordeaux can draw level with victory when they meet on Thursday.
“It’s very satisfying to get five wins in a row and we did it in style as well,” said Gignac, who also scored twice in the 3-0 win over Rennes at the weekend.
“Obviously it’s been a good day and now we can look forward to a big match against Saint-Etienne on Sunday.”