WEEK 38 REVIEW: Champs break record, Monaco third
By I. Holyman
Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain signed off with a club record win while AS Monaco clinched the last Champions League spot on the final day of the season.
Paris may not have broken the points tally for a single top-flight campaign as they did last term, but Laurent Blanc's men did register an historic ninth successive league win in beating Stade de Reims 3-2 to cap a third successive Ligue 1 title triumph.
"We showed a great mentality tonight, but we can't relax," said Blanc, whose side can complete an unprecedented domestic treble by winning next Saturday's Coupe de France final against AJ Auxerre.
"It's our own fault: we set ourselves up for an extra week of work by qualifying for the Coupe de France final, which we have our hearts set on winning. The league is a very tough competition to win, which makes our title even more beautiful. I have a great team with excellent players. It has been a beautiful season."
Edinson Cavani struck twice to take his season's tally to 18 L1 strikes, just one behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic's team-high 19, with the Uruguay international finishing with a flourish of ten goals in his last seven league outings of the season.
While Paris had already wrapped up the title and Olympique Lyonnais, who closed with a 1-0 triumph at Stade Rennais FC thanks to a Clinton Njie goal (86'), were certain to finish runners-up, third place - and a berth in the Champions League - was still up for grabs.
Monaco win, OM rueful
Monaco were in pole position coming into the final 90 minutes of the season, but knew only victory at FC Lorient would assure them of a return to the competition in which they were valiant quarter-finalists this season.
"Tonight Monaco showed that we are the third-best side in France - we proved it out on the pitch," said the principality club's coach, Leonardo Jardim, after seeing Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco's 20th-minute goal prove enough to win in Brittany and complete a remarkable campaign that had started catastrophically.
"A side that can go from last place to third deserves everything they get. We did our job well, even though if we hadn't had such a tough start to the season, we could have gone even further. I'm not bothered by critics; they don't change anything. I believe in my methods, my work and my players. I've been a coach for 20 years. I work to win, that's my objective."
Olympique de Marseille had hoped to sneak ahead of their Mediterranean rivals and onto the final step of the podium, but their 3-0 win at home to SC Bastia - for whom former OM forward Djibril Cissé played what is likely to be his 209th and last L1 game - was in vain. "If you look at the number of points we dropped, you're going to see a lot. There weren't many games in which our defeats were deserved. There are a lot of defeats that never should have happened," OM coach Marcelo Bielsa explained. "I would have liked to have finished a place higher, or even more."
AS Saint-Etienne were also left frustrated following their 2-1 home defeat of En Avant Guingamp. Fifth at the start of the day and with a chance to overtake Monaco, Christophe Galtier's men had to settle for a Europa League berth and a third successive European campaign. Guingamp's consolation was to see Claudio Beauvue equal Didier Drogba's club record tally of 17 goals in a single L1 campaign.
The bottom three were already decided before Week 38 with RC Lens destined to prop up the table, but they signed off with a 1-0 win over FC Nantes - only the northerners' second victory of 2015. Another relegated side, FC Metz, were soundly beaten 4-1 at home to LOSC Lille, whose coach, René Girard, enjoyed his final game in charge. Évian-Thonon-Gaillard FC, the last of the trio who will drop into Ligue 2 next season, were already 3-0 down at SM Caen before they scored twice in the closing stages to give the scoreline a more flattering face.
That was also the case of Toulouse FC, who ended an underwhelming campaign on the low of a 3-2 loss to OGC Nice, for whom Éric Bauthéac twice found the net. Diego Rolan scored the last goal at the Stade Chaban-Delmas and had the honour of being the first to find the net at Girondins de Bordeaux's new home, which they christened with a 2-1 win over Montpellier Hérault SC courtesy of a brace from the Uruguay international forward.