Lille recorded a second straight win as they try to launch an unlikely late defence of their Ligue 1 title, but were far from convincing in seeing off rock-bottom Sochaux1-0.
Having dropped off the pace of big-spending leaders Paris St Germain, Lille’s chances of retaining the crown seem remote, but they at least used their game in hand to full effect, moving back to within six points of the summit.
Nolan Roux’s late header proved enough for Lille, but they spent much of the match on the back foot before improving after the break.
Sochaux started the brighter of the two sides, with Mickael Landreau forced into an early save when he pushed Marvin Martin’s free-kick on to the post and away for a corner.
From the following set-piece, Martin sent an acrobatic volley towards goal but saw his effort go over the bar.
Martin was proving a menace and midway through the half he got down the left and crossed for Edouard Butin. He pulled the ball back for Slovan Privat, who went for the spectacular and got it all wrong.
Lille were barely seen as an attacking force in the first half, their only chance coming in the 34th minute when Eden Hazard’s ball found the run of Mathieu Debuchy, who lobbed the advancing Pierrick Cros only to see Mathieu Peybernes hook the ball off the line.
After watching such a poor opening 45 minutes from his side, Lille coach Rudi Garcia must have torn into his side in the dressing room as they looked much improved after the break.
Idrissa Gueye and Hazard both fired wide but the chances were starting to come and Cros was tested when Joe Cole’s pass released Benoit Pedretti but the goalkeeper was out to make the block.
Moments later, Lille took the lead as Roux climbed highest to head a corner beyond the reach of Cros.
Sochaux might have snatched a late equaliser when Ryad Boudebouz crossed for Cedric Bakambu and his shot beat Landreau only to come back off the post.