Lyon and Marseille failed to make up ground on French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain when they played out a tame goalless draw on Sunday night.
A point apiece leaves Lyon four adrift of PSG while Marseille, in third place, are three points further back.
After a relatively calm first half, in which Marseille just about held the upper hand, well-marshalled in midfield by English import Joey Barton, the game stepped up a gear in the second.
Lyon, who hardly threatened the Marseille goal in the opening period, came out for the second half with more purpose and could have broken the deadlock six minutes in.
Bafetimbi Gomis broke clear down the right but he was forced wide and when the ball came back in for Gueida Fofana, he blasted his effort wide of Steve Mandanda's left post.
They could even have had a penalty when Alexandre Lacazette appeared to be bundled over by Jeremy Morel in the area but referee Clement Turpin waved away Lyon's half-hearted appeals.
Gomis should have scored on 66 minutes when he picked up the ball with his back to goal, turned and shot but his effort took a deflection and flew high over the bar.
Earlier, Nice continued their bid for an unprecedented place in the Champions League as a first-half brace from Stephane Bahoken carried them to a 2-0 victory over Montpellier and into joint fourth with Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1.
The 20-year-old Bahoken opened the scoring after just 12 minutes before tapping in a rebound on 24 minutes from what appeared to be an offside position as the south coast club ended the defending champions' three game winning streak.
Nice, who won the last of their four French titles back in 1959, trail Saint-Etienne on goal difference but are just two points behind Marseille in the race for the third and final qualifying slot for Europe's most prestigious competition.
Claude Puel's side travel to rock bottom Nancy next Saturday before a crucial home tie against Marseille on March 30.
In the day's other game, Europa League hopefuls Bordeaux beat Bastia 1-0.