Matchday 38: Saturday round-up
What a night for Djibril Cisse (pictured) and Marseille - he scores twice as they beat Strasbourg 4-3 to qualify for the Champions League. Lyon wrap up the title with a comfortable win over Auxerre. PSG are safe - it's Lens who go down.
Ligue 1, Matchday 38
Benzema 1, Fred 10, Kallstrom 53
If anybody doubted whether the champions could see off the challenge of second-placed Bordeaux with a win here, Alain Perrin's side immediately came up with an answer. After just 10 minutes the game, and the threat to the their title, was over. First Karim Benzema picked up the ball in a central position, played a one-two with Fred and then planted the ball past the helpless Remy Riou to put the Ligue 1 leaders ahead. It was the 20th league goal of an incredible season for the much-coveted young striker.
It got even better for the visitors on 10 minutes. This time Benzema turned provider, sending Kader Keita clear on the right. The Ivorian's cross was perfect, as was Fred's left-footed half-volley from a tight angle.
With the pressure off, Lyon's attacking triumvirate carved out a number of further opportunities to increase the scoreline, with only good goalkeeping and profligate finishing keeping it 2-0. Early in the second half, however, Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom made it three, getting on the end of a precise cross from Anthony Reveillere. Frederic Thomas grabbed a late consolation goal, but nothing could spoil the Lyon party.
Monterrubio 68 pen, Maoulida 83
Cavenaghi 65, Bellion 82
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Lens were relegated from the top flight following a 2-2 draw at home to title-chasers Bordeaux.
The hosts knew they needed a win to realistically avoid the drop while the visitors needed a victory to have any chance of claiming the title. However, Lyon's 3-1 win at Auxerre put paid to les Girondins' hopes of landing the Ligue 1 prize for the first time since 1999.
With so much at stake for both sides it was no surprise that the first-half was a tight affair but the game burst into life after the break. Bordeaux's 14-goal leading scorer Fernando Cavenaghi hit the bar with a delicate lob seven minutes after the restart and broke the deadlock on 65 minutes when he finished coolly after a magnificent exchange of passes with midfielder Fernando and strike partner Marouane Chamakh. The lead lasted just three minutes, though, because Lens earned a penalty when Franck Jurietti felled Abdoul Boukari in the box and Olivier Monterrubio converted from the spot for his ninth goal of the season.
With the score at 1-1 Lens had hopes of avoiding the drop but Bordeaux regained the lead via David Bellion following another superb team move on 82 minutes. It was the former Manchester United man's 12th goal of the season. Back came Lens again, this time Toifilou Maoulida equalising almost instantly. Sadly for the packed home crowd, however, the Sang et Or were unable to score the winner that would have given them renewed hope of avoiding relegation - in the end, the result proved academic as wins for Toulouse and PSG meant Lens would have gone down anyway.
Diane 23, 83
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Two goals from Amara Diane preserved PSG's Ligue 1 status after a nerve-jangling encounter at Sochaux.
After a mixed season that has seen Paul Le Guen's side lift the Coupe de la Ligue and stand the chance of claiming a second piece of silverware thanks to qualifying for the Coupe de France final next weekend, the capital club went into the final round of matches in the unexpected position of not yet being sure of their Ligue 1 future. Last week's draw with St Etienne might have been a disappointment at the time, but it proved an invaluable point as it ensured a slender advantage over the other two clubs also facing the drop, Lens and Toulouse.
Once again it was Amara Diane who proved the difference for PSG. The Ivorian striker was a constant threat, and it was little surprise when he opened the scoring midway through the first half. The goal did have an element of good fortune, though, with Diane's shot going through the legs of the Sochaux captain Jeremie Brechet before whistling past the helpless Teddy Richert.
Sochaux's equaliser with 20 minutes to go would have set pulses racing on the PSG bench, but with Lens failing to beat Bordeaux, there was still a cushion at the bottom. In the end, though, it mattered not because Diane rose to the occasion yet again, grabbing the winner late on to finally give the beleagured Le Guen something to smile about.
Mathieu 3, Sirieix 75
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Toulouse retained their Ligue 1 status for next season thanks to a 2-1 victory over Valenciennes.
Midfielder Pantxi Sirieix - who hadn't scored in four years before last weekend - grabbed the winner 15 minutes from time, which means Elie Baup's side finish the season in 17th place, one place above the drop zone.
Utility man Jeremy Mathieu opened the scoring on three minutes but nerves started to jangle for the hosts when Johan Audel equalised seven minutes before the break, getting on the end of a Steve Savidan assist to net his ninth goal of the season.
Home fans anxiously followed results elsewhere but knew their fate would remain in their own hands as long as they won and Sirieix - who scored Toulouse's goal in the 2-1 defeat at Rennes last Saturday - duly delivered when his powerful shot beat Valenciennes goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau. Rudy Mater hit the bar for the visitors moments later but it eventually proved irrelevant, since Lens' 2-2 home draw with Bordeaux meant just a point would have been good enough for Toulouse. But the home side were delighted to finish a gruelling season with a win, their first on home soil in 2008.
Niang 6, Cisse 45, 78, Nasri 45
Fanchone 10, Gameiro 19, Zenke 72
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Marseille won one of the games of the season against Strasbourg to overhaul third-placed Nancy and claim the final spot in next season's Champions League. Two goals from former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse, including a late winner, ensured l'OM came out on top in this seven-goal thriller.
Marseille made the perfect start, with Mamadou Niang notching his 18th Ligue 1 goal of the season when he beat Stephane Cassard with a neat finish. But the joy on the Marseille bench was shortlived, as Strasbourg equalised four minutes later. The visitors produced a brilliant piece of attacking play, with captain Rodrigo splitting the Marseille defence to present James Fanchone with a straightforward goalscoring chance. Worse followed nine minutes later when France U21 striker Kevin Gameiro superbly exchanged passes with Eric Mouloungui that before showing great composure to rattle home his sixth goal of the season.
But Marseille always have goals in them, and managed to regain the lead in remarkable fashion deep into first half injury time. More than five minutes of extra time were played following a clash of heads between Niang and Cassard (both were substituted) and Marseille took full advantage by scoring two goals.
The first came about when replacement goalkeeper Nicolas Puydebois fouled Samir Nasri in the box. The stand-in number one saved Djibril Cisse's spot-kick only for the ball to rebound to the striker, who scored at the second attempt. Seconds later the score was 3-2 to Marseille as Nasri beautifully converted a cross from substitute Elliot Grandin.
There was late drama when Strasbourg equalised through Simon Zenke with 18 minutes to go, stunning the Velodrome crowd. But one final twist occurred when Cisse raced clear 12 minutes from time and finished brilliantly to claim his 16th Ligue 1 goal of the season. With Nancy losing at home to Rennes, third place was Marseille's, completing a remarkable climb up the table over the past six months.
Malonga 7, Andre Luiz 55
Mbia 32, Pagis 48, 58
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Nancy's hopes of a first-ever appearance in the Champions League were dashed at the final hurdle as Rennes came from behind to with at Stade Marcel Picot, leaving Pablo Correa's side with the consolation of a place in the UEFA Cup.
Things had begun perfectly for the home side, with Francis Malonga making an early breakthrough. But when Stephane Mbia brought Rennes level on the half-hour, nodding in from a corner, Nancy began to look nervous in the face of extreme pressure.
A strike just after the break from Mickael Pagis looked to have shattered the home side's confidence and although they did well to hit back straight away through Brazilian Andre Luiz, Marseille's winning position against Strasbourg meant that victory was imperative. In going for the win Nancy inevitably left spaces at the back and when Pagis grabbed his second just minutes later, Nancy's dream was over. For Rennes, though, Europe also beckons, with a place in the Intertoto Cup their reward for an excellent win.
St Etienne 4
Gomis 4, 7, Dernis 33, Feindouno 81
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Bafetimbi Gomis struck twice as St Etienne dramatically clinched a UEFA Cup place with a stunning 4-0 win over Monaco.
The big striker was the architect of this excellent victory as his two goals in the opening 10 minutes - taking his Ligue 1 tally to 16 for the season - put Laurent Roussey's side into Europe next season.
St Etienne knew their fate wasn't in their own hands but they concentrated on winning while hoping that Lille dropped points. Lille's 1-1 draw at Lorient and this victory meant St Etienne finished fifth on 58pts, with Lille one place below on 57pts.
Gomis' two goals were typical of the player, as he found space in the area and finished cleanly against a lackadaisical Monaco defence who performed as though they had nothing to play for. Gomis then turned provider to set up Geoffrey Dernis for les Verts' third goal on 33 minutes.
The result was clearly a foregone conclusion in the second-half and the pace visibly dropped before Pascal Feindouno rounded off a memorable evening with a fourth goal for the home side nine minutes from time.
Michel Bastos 55
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After a stirring late charge for a place in Europe, Lille fell short ion the final day as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Lorient at Stade du Moustoir.
Lorient had nothing to play for but Christian Gourcuff's side gave a good account of themselves,and it was no surprise when they opened the scoring just before the break.
The identity of the goalscorer was also no great shock. Rafik Saifi's form has been sensational this season and he signed off in style with a sumptuous 14th goal of the campaign. Lille - doubtless knowing the St Etienne and Rennes were both winning - kept plugging away and were rewarded when Brazilian midfielder Michel Bastos gave his side an equaliser from a quickly taken corner after the break. But try as they might, Lille just couldn't force a winner and missed out on Europe altogether, slipping from fifth to seventh, to finish behind St Etienne and Rennes.
Barbosa 3, Pjanic 13, B Gueye 34, Bessat 84
Le Mans 3
De Melo 51, Delhommeau own goal, Baal 85
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Metz bid fareweel to Ligue 1 on a winning note with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Le Mans at Stade Saint-Symphorien.
Yvon Pouliquen's hosts, who were already relegated, raced into a three-goal lead at half-time and survived Le Mans' second-half fightback to claim three points in one match for only the fifth time this season.
Cedric Barbosa netted the opener and Miralem Pjanic doubled their lead on 13 minutes before Babacar Gueye grabbed his sixth goal of the season shortly after the half-hour mark to send the home fans delirious. Matters got worse for Le Mans on 41 minutes when substitute defender Jean Calve - on the field for only six minutes - was sent off for a professional foul on Barbosa.
It was to Le Mans' credit, therefore, that they mounted a spirited comeback after the break. Departing striker De Melo, who joins Serie A club Palermo in the summer, netted his 13th goal of the season on 51 minutes before a deflected Mathieu Coutadeur shot - credited as an own goal by Metz defender Pascal Delhommeau - further reduced the deficit on 65 minutes. Vincent Bessat restored Metz's two-goal advantage on 84 minutes but Ludovic Baal ensured a dramatic finale with a third goal for Le Mans moments later. Despite their best efforts, however, Le Mans were unable to find an equaliser. Metz leave Ligue 1 with their heads held high, while Le Mans finish ninth, which is their highest-ever Ligue 1 position.
Hellebuyck 25, Ederson 57 pen, Kone 84
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Nice hero Ederson signed off with a goal as the home side ran out 3-1 winners over Caen in a match with nothing but pride at stake.
The 22-year-old Brazilian, one of the most skilful players in France;s top division, moves to champions Lyon this summer and left fans with something to remember when he notched from the penalty spot in the 57th minute. David Hellebuyck had opened the scoring in spectacular fashion for the hosts, lobbing home one of the goals of the season from 50 yards following a poor clearance from Caen's stand-in goalkeeper Benoit Costil. The visitors equalised just before half-time when Julien Toudic showed some neat control and a cool head in the penalty area to net his third goal in two games.
The game ebbed and flowed after the break and after Ederson's goal Ivory Coast striker Bakary Kone took his tally to 14 for the season when he converted Hellebuyck's pass six minutes from time. The win means Nice finish the season in eighth place while Caen end up a creditable 11th on their return to the top flight.