PARIS — A last-minute goal by Mevlut Erding earned Rennes a 1-1 draw at home to Lille on Sunday that prevented the French champions from galvanising their grip on third place and closing the gap on leaders Montpellier.
Erding met Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik's crossfield pass with a cool side-foot volley to equalise after Vincent Pajot, Romain Danze and Yann M'Vila had all spurned chances to level the score for Rennes during the second half.
Rennes had largely dominated the first period, with Mickael Landreau saving from Kana-Biyik and Kevin Theophile-Catherine, but they lost centre-back Onyekachi Apam in the 37th minute after he received two yellow cards in the space of 60 seconds.
Apam earned his second booking for a foul on Joe Cole and Lille took immediate advantage from the resulting free-kick, as Aurelien Chedjou flicked home Eden Hazard's delivery to put the visitors ahead.
Victory would have taken Lille to within five points of Montpellier, and given them a five-point lead over fourth-placed Saint-Etienne, but they ended the weekend seven points off top spot in third place, with Rennes climbing to sixth.
"You have to look at the match in its context," said Lille coach Rudi Garcia, whose side had won at Lorient and Sochaux in their two previous games.
"If you'd told us that we'd take seven points from nine, we would have been delighted. What was missing was a second goal to make the game safe.
"No French team that played in mid-week (in the league or the Champions League) has won this weekend. That's the answer for everyone who said I was crying about the calendar."
Erding goal's was doubly disappointing for the champions as Garcia's side had already seen their main rivals for the top-three finish synonymous with Champions League qualification -- Saint-Etienne, Lyon and Marseille -- all fail to win.
Marseille fell to a 1-0 loss at Brest earlier on Sunday that ended their 16-game unbeaten run and left them seven points below Lille in eighth place, although they retain a game in hand on all the teams above them.
Brest right-back Paul Baysse scored the game's only goal in the 17th minute, rising to meet Bruno Grougi's right-wing corner with a glancing header that nestled inside the left-hand post.
Brest goalkeeper Steeve Elana, a former Marseille trainee, proved equal to everything the visitors threw at him thereafter, while Eden Ben Basat cleared off the line from Rod Fanni in injury time.
Didier Deschamps' side were left to rue referee Ruddy Buquet's failure to award a penalty after Brest defender Johan Martial felled Brandao inside the home side's box in the first minute of the match.
"After 30 seconds, there was a penalty and definitely a red card," said Deschamps, whose side beat Inter Milan in the first leg of their Champions League tie in mid-week.
"You (the press) can say and write what you like. I hope at least that Mr Buquet will admit his mistake."
In the day's other afternoon kick-off, Toulouse won 2-0 at home to Sochaux to leapfrog OM into seventh place and leave their opponents rooted to the foot of the table, albeit only three points from safety.
On Saturday, a 94th-minute equaliser by Guillaume Hoarau earned Paris Saint-Germain a stunning 4-4 draw at Lyon after an extroardinary game at Stade Gerland.
Hoarau had put PSG ahead in the 21st minute but the hosts rallied to lead 3-1 and then 4-2, only for Carlo Ancelotti's men to storm back and rescue a point deep into added time when Hoarau headed home Mathieu Bodmer's volleyed pass.
The draw was not enough to keep PSG top, however, as Montpellier moved above them courtesy of a 1-0 win at home to Bordeaux, with John Utaka the scorer.
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