PARIS (AFP) Rennes held onto top spot in the French first division despite being held to a 0-0 draw at Lens on Sunday, while second-placed Saint-Etienne were unable to capitalise after losing 2-1 at Nice. A hamstring injury to summer signing Victor Hugo Montano means Rennes are currently without a senior striker and they didnt threaten until early in the second half, when Lens goalkeeper Vedran Runje saved from Jires Kembo-Ekoko. Second-bottom Lens procured the clearer chances thereafter, with Toifilou Maoulida and Razak Boukari both unable to convert presentable chances. Maoulida squandered a golden opportunity by heading wide from six yards after 20 minutes of the second period, while Rennes goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez clawed away Boukaris close-range header with six minutes remaining. The visitors finished the game with 10 men following the late dismissal of substitute Tongo Hamed Doumbia. Rennes manager Frederic Antonetti regretted the missing sparkle from his team. Asked if he was satisfied with the point he replied: Were not in a boxing fight. If it was a bout we would have won on points. In football you have to score goals. We had chances to score but we didnt manage it. Saint-Etienne forward Dimitri Payet celebrated his first France call-up last week and he put his side 1-0 up in the 11th minute at Nice, tucking home a penalty after he had been felled by Nemanja Pejcinovic. It was Payets eighth goal of the season and he nearly followed it up with a ninth, only for his glancing header to hit the post. Nice looked in danger of being swamped, but the momentum swung in the hosts favour when Gonzalo Bergessio was shown a straight red card for a clumsy challenge on Eric Mouloungui in the 22nd minute. The home side drew level early in the second period when Anthony Mounier slammed a beautiful volley into the bottom-right corner from the left-hand edge of the penalty area. Chaouki Ben Saada put Nice ahead in the 67th minute, beating Jeremie Janot with the aid of a deflection. It was Saint-Etiennes first defeat since a 3-1 loss at Paris Saint-Germain on the seasons opening day and allows Rennes to move two points clear at the top of Ligue 1. Later on Sunday, beleaguered Lyon coach Claude Puel gained some respite when the struggling French giants defeated his former team, Lille, 3-1 to enhance his prospects of persuading Lyon president Jean-Micherl Aulas he should keep his job despite their dreadful start.