Lyon edged past Nice 2-1 at the Groupama Stadium despite playing 56 minutes with 10 men to shoot up the table as coach Rudi Garcia claimed his third win in four Ligue 1 games.
The home side, who lost to Garcia’s former club Marseille before the international break, on Saturday moved up to fifth in the congested table having started the day 14th.
“Our team is young and need instructions,” said Garcia, who replaced the sacked Sylvinho last month.
“The players are listening, they’re progressing. We have lacked the decision making needed to attack better and I think that this victory can serve us well for the future.”
Jeff Reine-Adelaide gave Lyon a 10th-minute lead with a low finish from the edge of the area, before Moussa Dembele slotted in his 10th league goal of the season from the penalty spot after being hacked down himself by Nice centre-back Christophe Herelle.
But Lyon’s march to victory was dealt a blow in the 34th minute as full-back Fernando Marcal was sent off for a dreadful high challenge on Nice youngster Hichem Boudaoui.
Kasper Dolberg pulled one back for the visitors with 12 minutes remaining, but Nice defender Patrick Burner was also dismissed late on and Lyon claimed all three points.
Later on Saturday, Angers moved above Marseille, who visit Toulouse on Sunday, into second place, with a 1-0 win over bottom club Nimes.
Stephane Moulin’s men sit nine points adrift of reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the table after Thomas Mangani’s 67th-minute winner.
“We have to want to stay at the top,” said Moulin.
“If we fall back little by little as predicted, it’s not very serious…
“But the progression of our club has come from the ability to win matches without the favourite’s tag.”
Sixth-placed Nantes ended a four-match losing streak with a 1-1 draw at Brest, while lowly Dijon continued their upturn in form by beating Rennes 2-1.
Reims moved into fifth with a 1-1 draw at Metz, despite having scored only 10 league goals in 14 matches this season.
On Friday, PSG striker Mauro Icardi scored his 10th goal in nine games in a 2-0 win over last season’s runners-up Lille.