WEEK 37 REVIEW: Becks says 'Bye, Nancy down
By I. Holyman
David Beckham bade 'au revoir' to football at the Parc des Princes as Paris Saint-Germain celebrated their third Ligue 1 title with a Week 37 victory while AS Nancy-Lorraine were relegated.
Beckham was made captain for the game against Stade Brestois 29, coming off with tears welling in his eyes some ten minutes from time. He even contributed to his team's 3-1 victory sending over the corner from which Blaise Matuidi doubled their lead (31'). The French international midfielder's goal was sandwiched in between a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace (5', 36') which takes the Swedish striker to 29 for the season, one shy of Jean-Pierre Papin's tally of 30 for Olympique de Marseille during the 1989/90 campaign which has not been matched since.
Plunged into darkness after the final whistle, the crowd enjoyed a spectacular light and firework display before coach Carlo Ancelotti, who it was announced on Sunday will also leave the club this summer, and his players were introduced one-by-one to receive first the supporters' accolades and then their title winner's trophies from French Football League President Frédéric Thiriez. Just before captain Thiago Silva arrived to pick up the main trophy, Beckham spoke to the fans. "Tonight was a nice way to go out," he said. "To end my career here was special. Merci Paris."
Already guaranteed runners-up spot, Marseille saw their ten-match unbeaten run come to an end as they were undone 2-0 at AS Saint-Etienne for whom former OM striker Brandao (42') struck after Loïc Perrin had put Les Verts in front (25'). The victory, Saint-Etienne's first in four L1 outings, took them into fourth ahead of LOSC Lille, who were unable to break down a stoic Montpellier Hérault SC side that could only give title-winning coach René Girard a point on his Stade de la Mosson swansong. With LOSC playing host to Saint-Etienne next weekend, the victor will claim fourth, propelling LOSC into the Europa League or meaning Saint-Etienne - already qualified thanks to their Coupe de la Ligue triumph - will avoid a potentially tricky third qualifying round in the same competition.
The pair may still even snatch a place in the Champions League, though third-placed Olympique Lyonnais will have their destiny in their hands when they play host to Stade Rennais FC next Sunday. Former OL coach Claude Puel looked like he might get one over on the club he left so acrimoniously in 2011 when Dario Cvitanich put Nice ahead from the spot (47') in a game that was played on Sunday afternoon due to the torrential rain which had made the Stade du Ray pitch unplayable the previous day. A victory would have taken Puel's men level with OL on points, but despite captain Maxime Gonalons' 73rd-minute dismissal, Remi Garde's lineup salvaged a point with a majestic Clément Grenier free-kick (76') to cling on to their sought-after podium place.
Having looked like they may escape, Nancy were sucked down into Ligue 2 as they were beaten 2-1 at home by SC Bastia. Anthony Modeste's fine matchwinner 19 minutes from time condemned Patrick Gabriel's men, who were not helped by wins for Evian-Thonon-Gaillard, who beat Valenciennes FC 2-0 thanks to two goals inside the first 12 minutes - including another Saber Khlifa special - and Stade de Reims, who had Grzegorz Krychowiak's 33rd-minute penalty to thank for the 1-0 victory over FC Lorient that ensures they will be in L1 next season.
While Evian and AC Ajaccio, who drew 1-1 with Rennes, cannot breathe entirely safely just yet, it is FC Sochaux-Montbéliard who head into Week 38 with the most concern of the trio of clubs who hover just above the danger zone on 40 points. Beaten 2-1 at home by Toulouse FC, they now have only a three-point cushion over 18th-placed ESTAC Troyes, who defeated Girondins de Bordeaux 1-0. Should Troyes win at Valenciennes next Sunday and Sochaux lose at Bastia at the same time, Eric Hély's men cannot - unlike Evian and Ajaccio - seek refuge in goal difference with only a single strike currently between themselves and Jean-Marc Furlan's battling side.