PARIS (AFP) - Nantes gave their hopes of staving off relegation a major shot in the arm on Saturday with a 2-0 home win over mid-table Nice.
With the big guns holding their fire until Sunday, the day's French first division action focused on the foot of the table where Nantes had gone into the weekend third from bottom.
But they moved two points clear of the drop zone after first Cameroon international Christian Bekamenga and then French-born Malian Mamadou Bagayoko earned the club a vital win.
This was a welcome three points as it was their first victory since their defeat of Lyon back in early September and Nantes manager Elie Baup was heartened by his players' performance.
"That gives us strong encouragement for the rest of the season," he said.
"I'm urging my players not to give up until the last game of the campaign."
In Saturday's late game Saint Etienne also did their prospects of staying in the top tier no harm at all with 2-1 win over fifth-placed Lille.
The former European heavyweights jumped up a place into third from bottom, on 32 points.
The highest-placed club to turn out Saturday were Toulouse, who came acropper 1-0 at Grenoble after Laurent Courtois converted a 40th minute penalty to keep the Pyreneen side stuck in fourth spot.
"This was a bad result for us," said Toulouse manager Alain Casanova who was critical of the refereeing decision that led to the spot kick.
He added: "This isn't ideal preparation for our French Cup semi-final."
Rennes, who also have a French Cup semi-final coming up on Tuesday, stay in seventh after a 3-1 loss at Monaco, the hosts' goals all coming inside the last half an hour from Croat Jerko Leko and a double from Juan Pablo Pino.
Elsewhere, Nancy had Geoffrey Adjet to thank for grabbing the winner in their 2-1 success at Caen; Le Mans came away from their trip to Valenciennes 2-0 victors, while Auxerre edged Sochaux 1-0.
Sunday's menu features table toppers Marseille at Lorient and second-placed Lyon facing a stiff away day at Bordeaux.
PSG, knocked out of the UEFA Cup in midweek, host Le Havre.
|G. N'Dy Assembé|
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|M. Bagayoko||68' 90'|
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