Monaco hand PSG the title with Guingamp stalemate
Monaco's inability to get the better of feisty Guingamp at the Stade Louis II on Wednesday meant that Paris Saint-Germain claimed a second-straight Ligue 1 title without even taking the field in their Week 36 clash with Rennes.
AS Monaco FC 1 - 1 EA Guingamp
Monaco looked to have the upper hand in this hard-fought clash when Bulgarian superstar Dimitar Berbatov opened the scoring late with a clinical header, but Fatih Atik's reply eight minutes later put his side in the running for a precious point in the race to beat the drop.
Despite losing Moustapha Diallo to a red card soon after (88'), recently crowned Coupe de France winners Guingamp held out for the result that not only sent them two points clear of 18th-placed Sochaux, but also left Monaco seven points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain - even before their home clash with Rennes at 21:00 - with just two matches left to play.
Guingamp mix it
The match long looked set for a stalemate as a buoyant Guingamp - in desperate need of points after three consecutive losses in March sent them to the brink of the drop zone - kept their hosts busy with an intense pressing display, club top scorer Mustapha Yatabaré keeping the home side's defenders busy with his power and movement.
However, it was midfielder Thibault Giresse who carved out the match's first clear-cut chance. His powerful angled effort from just inside the area requiring a strong save from Danijel Subasic in the Monaco goal (42').
Monaco have a strong record of scoring in home fixtures this season - in 17 matches at the Stade Louis II, Nantes are the only side to have managed a clean sheet - and in the second half they put increasing pressure on the Guingamp goal. However, Joaõ Moutinho's header was too soft (64'), Aymen Abdennour was denied a header at the near post and Berbatov saw his shot blocked after a deft chest-down of the ball (72').
With fifteen minutes to go, coach Claudio Ranieri - whose future at the club is the subject of widespread speculation despite Monaco's excellent promotion season - showed his nous as he brought Nabil Dirar on for James Rodriguez.
Berbatov shines again
Within two minutes, the substitute latched onto a pass wide on the right, easily rounded Dorian Lévêque and crossed for Berbatov, who pounded a powerful header home from several metres out (77'). The Bulgarian has been in scintillating form since signing from Fulham in January, bagging his sixth goal in seven matches to break the deadlock.
But Guingamp are renowned for their fighting spirit and within minutes were back on level terms after Fatih Atik raced onto Mustapha Yatabaré's first-time pass and hammered home with a blistering half-volley that squeezed inside Subasic's near post (85').
Guingamp were forced to play the final minutes with just ten men after Diallo's red for a dangerous aerial challenge on Monaco captain Jérémy Toulalan, but the Brittany side held out for a result that handed them a precious point - and PSG the 2013-14 Ligue 1 title.