Monaco came back to earn a 1-1 draw at home to Saint-Etienne on Friday as both teams lost ground on the leading trio at the top of Ligue 1.
Two-time defending champions Paris Saint-Germain continue to lead Lyon by a point, and Sunday’s opponents Marseille by two, while Monaco climb within five of the capital club in fourth, having played the same number of matches.
Saint-Etienne remain solid in fifth and six points off the pace having played a game more.
“We have some regrets, yes. I think we had the best chances, the best situations, even before scoring,” said Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier.
Mevlut Erding put the visitors in front 28 minutes from time with a glorious glancing header that stunned the home crowd following a cross from Franck Tabanou.
Turkish international and former Paris Saint-Germain striker Erding, 28, met the ball perfectly as he ran into the box and sent his header past the stranded Danijel Subasic and into the Monaco goal.
However the lead was short-lived as Leonardo Jardim’s men were back on level terms six minutes later when Anthony Martial clipped the ball home when picked out inside the area.
The two best defences in the top flight then locked up shop as neither team were able to find a late winner.
“I’m disappointed because our aim is always to win,” said Jardim.
“But we were up against good opponents who knew how to get in behind us. That created difficulties for us.”
PSG can strike a major blow in the title race by continuing their impressive recent record against Marseille when the bitter rivals meet at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday.
Laurent Blanc’s side, who are still in the running for four trophies, have spent most of the season playing catch-up at the top but finally reached the summit after beating Lorient 3-1 in their last outing a fortnight ago.
Blanc’s side have dominated the fixture known as ‘Le Classique’ in recent years, with their 2-0 win at the Parc des Princes in November their sixth in a row against OM.
With their main rivals facing each other, Lyon will hope to take advantage when they go to Guingamp on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Bordeaux, in sixth, host Lens on Sunday, while bottom side Metz entertain fellow strugglers Toulouse and Lorient host Brittany rivals Rennes on Saturday. – Agence France-Presse