Sow good as Lille take title
By I. Holyman
Moussa Sow struck his 22nd goal of the season to help Lille earn the point they needed to be crowned Ligue 1 champions with a 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.
Rudi Garcia's side knew a point from their final two matches of the season would see them take the title, and they made an early step towards that goal when Ludovic Obraniak drilled home a shot just five minutes in. PSG replied through Guillaume Hoarau in the dying seconds of the first half, but the French international striker was then dismissed before Sow struck on 59 minutes. Former Lille man Mathieu Bodmer crashed home a superb equaliser with 17 minutes left, but the visitors hung on to secure their first top-flight title since 1954 and complete the double for the first time since 1946.
Lille had failed to win on any of their last 11 visits to the capital, but quickly settled this time round thanks to Obraniak. The Polish international had come off the bench to score the matchwinner against PSG in the French Cup final last weekend, which had earned him a starting slot for Wednesday's win over Sochaux and Rudi Garcia was not disappointed to have retained the midfielder in the starting XI for a second successive match. When Sow's shot was bravely blocked, the ball broke invitingly to Obraniak, who zipped a crisp low shot beyond Grégory Coupet from the edge of the box.
Having forged ahead, though, Lille almost immediately found themselves pegged back, but when the unmarked Hoarau rose to meet a cross, he could only head straight at Mickaël Landreau. The ex-PSG goalkeeper did not enjoy a particularly fruitful spell at the Parc des Princes, and he certainly did not have a smile on his face when Hoarau acrobatically volleyed just wide before testing Landreau with a shot to his near post.
Though Lille could pick up the title, it seemed that PSG's motivation to take third place from Lyon was even greater, and the hosts pressed for an equaliser. Bodmer flashed a shot wide before Ludovic Giuly saw his vicious effort fortuitously deflected onto the bar by Aurélien Chedjou's outstretched leg.
The champions-elect were living on their wits, and only Landreau's flying save prevented Siaka Tiené smashing home the opener before Nene's delightful lobbed pass caught the Lille 'keeper flat-footed - Mevlut Erding just failed to touch the ball into the net from close range.
The pace of Gervinho and power of Sow meant PSG were always watchful, but their confidence and determination was clear, and they deservedly pulled level in added time before the break. With the Lille back four organising, Nene's quickly-taken free-kick was superbly brought under control by Hoarau, who fired instantly beyond Landreau.
It was a goal of the highest calibre, but within 60 seconds of the restart, the towering French international blotted his copybook. After being booked in the first half for a late challenge on Adil Rami, Hoarau ghosted past the Lille centre-back before falling to the turf in the hope of winning a penalty - referee Lionel Jaffredo produced a second yellow card to reduce the hosts to ten men.
PSG coach Antoine Kombouaré was sent to the stands after losing control off the pitch, and his team would see the match edge away from them on it. Eden Hazard smuggled possession away from the hosts in midfield before bursting forward, and though he was caught badly by Sylvain Armand's reckless lunge, play was allowed to flow and Mathieu Debuchy's cross was turned home ruthlessly by Sow.
Behind but not unbowed, PSG once again bounced back. A Giuly centre rolled along the line before ricocheting to safety off the far post with Landreau beaten, which proved the prelude to Bodmer's fine individual effort - the big midfielder picked up a loose clearance before skipping past a challenge and unleashing a vicious rising drive beyond Landreau.