Monaco edged visiting Brest 1-0 on Sunday to start the Ligue 1 New Year by tightening its grip on fourth place and closing in on a Champions League spot.
The French league normally takes the holiday season off but with matches to make up following the World Cup, it played one round immediately after Christmas and another on Sunday and Monday.
The league has dubbed the games ‘Celebration Week’, in English, as a nod to the English tradition of Boxing Day games, but many fans are suspicious or hostile.
Among protest banners unfurled by fans in an almost empty stand at Nantes was one that complained that the league and broadcasters were “killing” them.
In Monaco, Aleksandr Golovin smashed in the only goal from outside the penalty area as the home team did just enough to win. It moved level with Marseille, which is third and visits Montpellier on Monday.
Brest dominated the rest of the second half but could not score and remained 17th and in the relegation places.
Nantes jumped from 16th to 14th as it beat struggling Auxerre with a 73rd minute goal from Marcus Coco.
Angers remains anchored to the bottom after suffering a ninth straight loss, falling 2-1 to visiting Lorient which broke its own run of six games without a victory.
The home team’s Moroccan World Cup stars Sofiane Boufal and Azzedine Ounahi, who have just returned from vacations and reportedly been promised lucrative transfers, were honoured before the match but did not appear.
“I was happy to see Sofiane and Azzedine,” said Angers coach Abdel Bouhazama. “For the moment they are here. For the rest, I leave that to the club directors. I take care of what happens on the pitch.”
Angers took the lead with a 10th-minute goal by Abdallah Sima. It was the Senegalese striker’s first goal since arriving on loan from Brighton.
His second Ligue 1 goal was into his own net as he turned home a corner from Enzo Le Fee in the 79th minute. Le Fee blasted the winner two minutes from time.