PARIS (AFP) - Marseille remained on course for a first French championship in 18 years after thrashing south coast neighbours Nice 4-1 on Sunday to move two points clear at the Ligue 1 summit.
Ivory Coast winger Bakary Kone put the hosts ahead three minutes before half-time and Stephane Mbia headed home from a corner in the 52nd minute, with Lucho Gonzalez the supplier on both occasions.
Mathieu Valbuena made it 3-0 in the 71st minute, lifting the ball over David Ospina with the outside of his right foot from Mamadou Niang's lay-off, before Souleymane Diawara converted another Lucho corner with a towering header.
Emerse Fae claimed an injury-time consolation for Eric Roy's side.
All of Marseille's title rivals except Auxerre dropped points over the weekend, with Lyon and Lille drawing 1-1 earlier on Sunday, leaving Didier Deschamps's team in pole position with seven matches to play.
The Mediterranean giants have a game in hand on Auxerre, Lyon, Montpellier and Lille and will open up a five-point lead over the chasing pack with victory in their delayed match at Sochaux on Wednesday.
Despite the victory, Marseille striker Mathieu Valbuena urged caution.
"The confidence is there, we all work for each other. We know that in the newspapers tomorrow, we will be described as champions. Of course, we are in first place, but we have to remain calm," he said.
Second-placed Auxerre maintained their drive for a European place after Romanian striker Daniel Niculae smashed home in the 88th minute to bring them a 1-0 win at Nancy.
"We're five points above Lille, which is the most important thing," said Auxerre captain Benoit Pedretti, whose side must finish in the top five if they are to play European football next season.
"We have to avoid sixth place. It would be annoying to have done all that and not qualify for Europe."
Lyon captain Cris headed in from a free-kick to earn his side a point at home to Lille after they had fallen behind to a deflected Pierre-Alain Frau strike in the 62nd minute.
Both sides finished the match with 10 men, after Lille defender Ricardo Costa and Lyon defensive midfielder Maxime Gonalons were dismissed for committing two bookable offences.
"I say bravo to the players because after a European Cup match they put in a very solid performance," said Lyon coach Claude Puel.
"They gave everything that they could have given today."
Lyon, who will face Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals after knocking out Bordeaux on Wednesday, remain third on 58 points, level with Montpellier, who fall to fourth on goal difference.
Lille stay sixth, seven points shy of Marseille, while the battle for a top-three finish and a place in next season's Champions League threatens to go down to the final weekend of the season.
Defending champions Bordeaux's quest to retain their title was dealt a sizeable blow on Saturday when they lost 3-1 at Paris Saint-Germain.
Eliminated from the Champions League in mid-week and beaten by Marseille in last month's League Cup final, Bordeaux finished the weekend six points behind OM in fifth but with a game in hand.
Montpellier were held 2-2 at second-bottom Le Mans, while bottom club Grenoble's long-awaited relegation was confirmed when they lost 4-0 at Toulouse and fourth-bottom Saint-Etienne beat Sochaux 2-0 to pull 11 points clear of the drop zone.
|Coach: D. Deschamps|
|Wenger sees Giroud wrongs|
|Premier League schedule a ´disgrace´, says Poyet|
|Championship Review: Bournemouth stay top, Heskey scores on Bolton debut|
|Hughes lauds Bojan performance|
|Koeman: Saints marching on|
|Pardew rues referee error|
|Arsenal 2 QPR 1: Sublime Alexis secures the spoils|
|Martinez questions Walters decision|
|Poyet laments Sunderland mistakes|
|League One Review: Swindon cruise to win over Walsall|
|Irvine aware of need for improvement|
|United still doing ´very bad things´ - Van Gaal|
|Lambert proud of players despite Swansea defeat|
|Warnock bemoans Palace defence|
|Bruce hails Hull´s spirit|
|Pochettino relieved to come away with victory|
|Dyche: We had our pocket pinched|
|Monk hails Fabianski performance|
|Pearson demands greater concentration from Leicester|
|Kompany set for City return|
|Rodgers hails character after battling win|
|League Two Review: Ainsworth frustrated by Luton, Shrewsbury go top|
|Everton 0 Stoke City 1: Lacklustre Everton slip to defeat|
|Sunderland 1 Hull City 3: Triumphant return for Bruce|
|Burnley 0 Liverpool 1: Sterling wins it at Turf Moor|
|Leicester City 1 Tottenham 2: Eriksen piles misery on Pearson´s men|
|Manchester United 3 Newcastle United 1: Rooney extends hosts´ streak|
|West Brom 1 Manchester City 3: Three and easy for in-form champions|
|Swansea City 1 Aston Villa 0: Hosts break Boxing Day duck|
|Crystal Palace 1 Southampton 3: Mane marks return with star performance|
|Allardyce upbeat despite defeat|
|Van Dijk happy at Celtic - Deila|
|Table-topping Chelsea delight Mourinho|
|Chelsea 2 West Ham 0: Mourinho´s men ease to victory|
|Suarez enjoying Messi, Neymar link-up|
|A-League Review: Garcia rescues point for Perth, Adelaide up to second|
|Poyet calls for mid-season break|
|Van Gaal rules out Januzaj move|
|Rodgers: Balotelli may have to get used to bench|
|Lallana: I was trying too hard|
|Walker juggles music, football careers in Sweden|
|Song to face ´brother from another mother´ Fabregas|
|Adriano announces Le Havre deal|
|Pardew braced for Old Trafford test|
|Lescott unfazed by City reunion|
|Tskhadadze appointed Georgia coach|
|United to finish top three - Ferdinand|
|Allardyce: Stamford Bridge stalemate saved my job|
|Southampton need three January signings, says Watson|
|Liverpool can make Champions League, says fanzine editor|
|Walsh: Hull clash crucial for Leicester|
|Toure, Aubameyang and Enyeama make shortlist for African gong|
|Docherty backs Chelsea to win two-horse race|
|Liverpool could benefit from Hyypia influence - Scales|
|Saudi Arabia name Asian Cup squad|
|Forty-year-old Cahill no problem for Postecoglou|
|Wenger criticism baffles Redknapp|
|Leicester must strengthen in window - Walsh|
|United not title contenders - Docherty|
|Koeman: Southampton youngsters will get a chance|
|Dyche empathises with Liverpool striker crisis|
|Cagliari turn to Zola|
|Rooney thanks Van Gaal for Christmas break|
|Cruzeiro offer Paulinho Tottenham exit chance|
|Carlisle´s wife grateful to Burnley|
|Katebe called up to Zambia AFCON squad|
|Cape Verde name AFCON squad|
|Finke names much-changed Cameroon squad|
|Grant omits World Cup troublemakers for AFCON|
|Blackpool striker Ranger goes AWOL|
|Allardyce relishing Mourinho meeting|
|Ashley fails to increase Rangers stake|
|Crystal Palace v Southampton: Koeman calls for focus|
|Warnock targeting striker in January|
|Chelsea v West Ham: Adrian vows visitors will attack|
|Heskey signs short-term deal at Bolton|
|Everton v Stoke City: Martinez eyes strong form|
|Juninho defends David Luiz|
|Burnley v Liverpool: Dyche defends Rodgers ahead of Turf Moor test|
|Arsenal v QPR: Wenger eyes festive momentum|
|Liverpool are growing in confidence, says Rodgers|
|Redknapp: Austin future could depend on survival|
|Martinez wants Everton consistency|
|Barca want Neymar until 2020, says agent|
|Jones undeterred by pressure of Liverpool starting role|
|Allardyce ´knows how to beat managers´ - Carroll|
|Jones playing for a new contract|
|China select Evergrande spine for Asian Cup|
|A-League Preview: Koren tips City to build|
|Khedira keen to fight for Real spot|