Lille stunned Marseille 3-0 on Sunday to move up to second place in France’s Ligue 1.
Marseille travelled north hoping to close the 11-point gap to arch-rivals Paris Saint-Germain after the capital club tightened their grip on the lead with a 3-0 win at Nice on Saturday.
But Marseille coach Rudi Garcia, who famously led Lille to a rare league and Cup double in 2011, was sent back to the drawing board after a mediocre performance by the southerners left them in sixth place.
Lille, in second, are now eight points behind PSG with Montpellier one point further behind in third after a trouble-hit 3-0 win over Nimes earlier on Sunday.
Marseille showed little attacking flair in a balanced first half in Lille.
And Garcia’s men were made to pay for their lack of creativity when Nicolas Pepe got up from a foul just after the hour mark to send ‘keeper Steve Mandanda the wrong way from the spot.
The hosts doubled their lead on 86 minutes when Jonathan Bamba, from an almost carbon copy foul, got up to beat Mandanda.
Lille completed the win in some style, Fode Ballo-Toure barging Japan defender Hiroki Sakai off the ball to set up Bamba for an easy tap-in from close range in the closing minutes.
Earlier, former champions Montpellier risked losing all three points due to unruly fans who forced two stoppages in their 3-0 win over local rivals Nimes.
The first ‘Languedoc derby’ in 25 years had promised plenty of drama, but neither players nor officials were quite ready for the incidents that threatened its cancellation and the points to be awarded to struggling Nimes.
Dominant from the outset, Montpellier had taken their lead to 3-0 by the 79th minute thanks to goals from Ambroise Oyongo, Andy Delort, who scored a penalty 10 minutes into first-half stoppage time, and Gaetan Laborde.
But virtually claiming all three points wasn’t enough for some of the rowdier fans in the crowd who — following an initial seven-minute interruption when a barrier caved in — then climbed the barriers to run on to the pitch.
French riot police quickly restored order, while Montpellier president Laurent Nicollin intervened in a bid to restore calm.
The incidents could lead to sanctions for Montpellier, who are now nine points behind runaway leaders and champions Paris Saint-Germain, who saw Neymar hit a brace Saturday in a 3-0 win at Nice.
“I can understand the fans, but they should also control their behaviour,” said Montpellier coach Michel Der Zakarian.
“The club will be heavily sanctioned, we will pay fines, and maybe they will close that part of the stadium.
“Everyone will be sanctioned,” added Der Zakarian, who was quick to praise his players.
“You can’t take anything away from the players, we dominated them (Nimes) from start to finish.”