Monaco gave their hopes of Champions League qualification from Ligue 1 a boost as Wissam Ben Yedder scored a hat-trick in a 7-1 demolition of Ajaccio on Sunday, while Lille romped to a 5-1 victory against Troyes.
The principality side were knocked out of the French Cup on penalties by second-division Rodez last weekend and kicked off against Ajaccio eight points adrift of the top three in Ligue 1.
That meant they could ill afford to slip up against the struggling Corsicans but they were 2-0 up inside six minutes at the Stade Louis II through tap-ins from France defender Axel Disasi and Senegal winger Krepin Diatta.
Youcef Belaili pulled one back for Ajaccio but Ben Yedder — who has 19 caps for France but was left out of their World Cup squad — then struck a hat-trick before half-time, including a penalty, to make it 5-1 at the interval.
On as a substitute, Switzerland forward Breel Embolo rounded out an emphatic win with a brace in the second half.
Monaco are fourth, five points behind Marseille in third, at the season’s halfway stage.
Rennes are three points behind them in fifth before facing leaders Paris Saint-Germain later on Sunday, with the reigning champions set to see Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar all play together for the first time since the World Cup.
Lille gave their own hopes of qualifying for Europe a lift as they beat Troyes earlier, with Mohamed Bayo and Canada’s Jonathan David both scoring twice.
Alan Virginius scored the other goal for Lille, who gave United States forward Timothy Weah a rare start out of position at left-back.
There were also wins for Nantes and Clermont, with the latter inflicting a 2-1 defeat on bottom side Angers who have now suffered 11 straight league defeats.
Nantes won 3-0 at Montpellier in a game held up by quarter of an hour in the first half when angry home supporters launched flares onto the pitch.
Marseille came from behind to beat Lorient 3-1 on Saturday and claim a sixth straight league win, while second-placed Lens recorded a 10th consecutive victory at home as they beat Auxerre 1-0.
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