Paris: A second-half goal from Benoit Cheyrou gave Marseille a 1-0 win at Lens on Sunday to ensure the reigning champions remain in touch with French league leaders Lille as rivals Lyon, Rennes and Paris Saint Germain were all held.
Cheyrou found the net after 70 minutes to keep Didier Deschamps' side four points behind Lille whose bid for a first league title in nearly 50 years remains firmly on track after a convincing 3-1 win at home against Caen on Saturday.
But Deschamps was far from impressed by his side's labouring performance against second-from-bottom Lens.
"They're a team who are fighting for survival. We should have killed off the match," said Deschamps.
"We cemented our second place, but we didn't do everything well, but in terms of quality and commitment it was good. We have nine matches left."
Cheyrou, who has found favour in recent weeks after long being limited to a substitute's role, added: "The important thing is we're still in the race even if Lille don't seem ready to let up. In any case we're not going to let up either until the bitter end."
Lyon's title ambitions took a further knock earlier Sunday when lowly Nice scored two late goals to ensure the former seven-time champions left the Riviera with a 2-2 draw to ensure they remain fourth.
Rennes and Paris Saint German lost ground following goalless draws at home.
"It's hard to swallow," said Lyon coach Claude Puel, whose side were also held by Rennes a week ago.
"Without having a great match we lead 2-0 and could have gone 3-0 or 3-1. In the end we gave Nice the momentum."
"We were weak. Given our ambitions and objectives, the Nice draw is difficult to accept. We're furious with ourselves."
Lyon let their guard down late in the game after going into the locker room at half time with a two-goal advantage after Kim Kallstrom opened after 22 minutes and Lisandro added a second just before the whistle.
Nice, now three points above the drop zone, refused to give up with Lyon goalie Hugo Lloris doing well to keep out a Danijel Ljuboja penalty on 50 minutes awarded after the Serbian striker was brought down by Senegalese defender Pape Diakhate.
Lyon were reduced to 10 men when Diakhate was finally given his marching orders after 90 minutes for a second yellow card, with striker Eric Mouloungui netting the penalty.
Argentine defender Renato Civelli levelled the scores three minutes later with a goal which had shades of a hand ball.
Nice coach Eric Roy hailed his team's gutsy performance.
"Lyon scored through two of their rare chances. We had three 3 or 4 opportunities but the score remained in favour of our rivals in the first half," said Roy.
"At the break I told my players to remain focused and they were until the end. Finally it's almost dissapointing to take just a point after such a match."
Rudi Garcia's Lille, meanwhile, are showing no sign of weakness as they kept their bid for a first league title since 1954 on track with goals from Aurelien Chedjou, Eden Hazard and top scorer Moussa Sow who slotted home his 20th goal of the season.
Youssef El Arabi got one back five minutes from time, but Caen, who are three points above the drop zone, suffered their third heavy defeat of the season to Lille.
Rennes remain in third despite having taken just two points from their last three matches including a 0-0 draw against Auxerre.
PSG have also lost steam, taking two points from their last four games including Saturday's 0-0 draw to Lorient, leaving the Parisians a distant fifth, 12 points behind Lille and five off Rennes.