Montpellier are now three points off opponents Rennes after comfortably beating them by two goals to nil at the Stade de la Mosson.
The southerners' win also mathematically means that Rennes can no longer qualify for the Uefa Europa League.
It was a spirited performance from the hosts who have completely turned around their dismal early season form which saw them confined to the relegation places for the opening 10 weeks.
Casimir Ninga opened the scoring for Montpellier on 58 minutes with a slick finish after being teed up by Souleymane Camara. The second came on 70 minutes with Riyad Boudebouz the scorer. Usually the assister for his side, but the midfielder made no mistake in sending Benoit Costil the wrong way with a fantastic finish.
Tedious first half with not a lot of action
The night actually started, some would say, promising for Rennes as they had a goal chopped for offside 10 minutes in. In a usual training ground move, Ousmane Dembele stuttered his run up before swinging in a low ball to the near post. On the end of it was Fallou Diagne who nudged it by Geoffrey Jourdren, but the linesman raised his flag against the centre-back.
After the early scare, Montpellier grew more and more into the game as the first half played out. However, the scoring was not to be opened by either side who were restricted to half chances and shots from distance. Boudebouz arguably had the best of a bad bunch after he scooped a strike inches wide of the top corner.
Montpellier implement their dominance
Two changes at the break for Rennes saw captain Romain Danze replaced by the more attacking Pedro Henrique while the surprise change of Dembele for Jeremie Boga probably signaled injury for the young star.
After 10 minutes, Henrique definitely brought more of an offensive threat to the Rennes side. His best chance of the match came from 25 yards out and narrowly missed target from that range.
The scoring was opened only three minutes later, but it was to be Montpellier that would break the deadlock. Under the pressure of the Rennes back line, Camara picked out his advancing strike partner Ninga who sweetly curled into the net from close range. That was the Chadian striker's fourth goal at home this season.
The goal gave the leaders a definite spring in their step while their opponents were even more dejected, and it showed. A momentary lapse in concentration saw Camara through on goal to make it a second for Montpellier. Fortunately for Rennes, the familiar figure of Costil came to the rescue to deny the striker.
Unfortunately for the French number three stopper, there was nothing he could do to prevent the shot which did become the second for Montpellier. The scrambling Rennes defence was split open with a precise pass from Ninga to Boudebouz who sent Costil the wrong way with a low finish.
Although the win seemed all but sealed towards the end of the match, a small glimmer of hope for a very late come back came to fruition for Rennes. After dribbling past Jourdren, Giovanni Sio only had to tap the ball in from a few yards out, but the ball wouldn't sit for the Ivorian who took too long to release and the chance was gone. His recovery shot was then cleared off the line, leaving the small traveling Rennes faithful mystified.
Sio will need to put that chance to the back of his mind as his Rennes side host former team Bastia next week at Roazhon Park, while Montpellier go to Monaco.