Nine-man Stades Rennes lost 2-1 at home to FC Lorient, effectively ending their Ligue 1 title challenge on Saturday, while Nice won the relegation clash with south coast rivals Monaco.
Fourth-placed Rennes, seven points behind leaders Lille who host Girondins Bordeaux later, went ahead through midfielder Stephane Dalmat midway though the first half but had Samuel Souprayen sent off for two bookings after 39 minutes.
Seventh-placed Lorient took full advantage in the northwest derby and France striker Kevin Gameiro headed them level early in the second period before on-loan Arsenal man Francis Coquelin sealed the points with his first top-flight goal.
Jean-Armel Kana Biyik became the second Rennes player to be dismissed, receiving a second yellow card late in the game.
Nice climbed to 12th, four points clear of the relegation places, with a 3-2 win over Monaco who are 17th, one place above the danger zone .
Auxerre picked up a valuable late 1-0 win at Toulouse to move up to 14th while Caen fell into the relegation places after a 3-2 defeat at Sochaux.
Bottom side Arles-Avignon will go down if they lose at Valenciennes on Sunday while one-from-bottom Racing Lens, who drew 1-1 with Stade Brest, also look doomed with 29 points.
With seven games left, the battle to avoid the third relegation place is increasingly tight with only four points separating eleventh-placed Brest and 18th-placed Caen.