Lille hold Monaco as St. Etienne and Lyon close gap
Lille's Belgium forward Divock Origi (R) shoots and scores a goal during the French L1 football match Monaco (ASM) vs Lille (LOSC) on March 23, 2014 at the "Louis II Stadium" in Monaco - by Valery Hache
Claudio Ranieri's second-placed side lost more ground in their bid to close the gap to runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain and now trail by 10 points with just eight matches remaining.
Lille's point pushes them three points clear of the pack in the race for third place and the final Champions League spot.
"It's a very good point for us," said Lille coach Rene Girard.
"With a little bit more guts, we could even have gone home with a bit more. Paris and Monaco are playing out their championship and we're playing out ours.
"We're three points in front (of Saint-Etienne) which is not safe but there's a derby coming up (Lyon v Saint-Etienne) which we could profit from as long as we don't mess things up ourselves," added Girard.
Earlier in the day, Saint-Etienne compounded relegation-threatened Sochaux's problems with a 3-1 win at the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium while Lyon are a further three back in fifth place after edging Guingamp 1-0 in Brittany.
At the Louis II stadium, Monaco got off to the ideal start after just four minutes when Dimitar Berbatov began a move that eventually fell at the feet of Mounir Obbadi.
The Moroccan made no mistake in his one-on-one duel with Nigerian 'keeper Vincent Enyeama, slotting home to put Ranieri's side in front.
Lille refused to buckle however and forced an equaliser six minutes before the break.
- Created by Kalou -
Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou was the creator for the visitors as he launched a counter-attack to set up Divock Origi and the Belgian teenager's fierce shot from a tight angle beat Croatian 'keeper Danijel Subasic at his near post.
Neither side were able to snatch a winner which allowed PSG, who won 1-0 at Lorient on Friday, to extend their lead at the top.
"Monaco tried to win but it just wasn't possible," said Monaco coach Ranieri following the tie.
"It's a good draw against a good team, very solid and compact. Both teams were aggressive, it was a tactical match and the draw is logical."
At Saint-Etienne, substitute Mevlut Erding opened the scoring for the home side just after half-time with a header before French midfielder Franck Tabanou doubled their lead five minutes later.
Edouard Butin gave Sochaux a lifeline with 24 minutes left as Herve Renard's side chased a first away win of the season, but Erding sealed the points in the 89th minute.
Sochaux meanwhile remain second from bottom and six points from safety.
"After two wins away from home, we had the heart to do the job in front of our fans," said Tabanou.
"After Saturday's results, it was equally important to win and stay in the top half of the table. Now we have to prepare well for the trip to Lyon which will be a great match to play.
"At home, we have to demand respect from the opposition to take the three points which is what we did but we're going to play hard until the end of the season and then we'll have to wait and see."
In Brittany, Lyon scored early in the second half thanks to a shot scrambled home by Bafetimi Gomis and then withstood a ferocious Guingamp onslaught to hang on and stay three behind their bitter rivals.