Benjamin Bourigeaud and Lovro Majer scored as Stade Rennais FC beat Olympique de Marseille 2-0 on Saturday to keep the race for Champions League qualification wide open into the final weekend of the season. AS Monaco are up to second after beating Stade Brestois 29.
Stade Rennais FC 2-0 Olympique de Marseille
The stakes were high at Roazhon Park, with Rennes having to win to keep alive their Champions League hopes. Defeat could even see them fall out of the European places altogether, while Marseille knew a victory would allow them to clinch a top-three finish with one game to spare.
Yet it was Rennes who drew first blood and never looked back after Bourigeaud struck in the 12th minute, coolly finishing low into the net with a first-time effort after being picked out in space on the right side of the area by the excellent Martin Terrier.
It was always going to be an uphill struggle for Marseille after that, especially with their talisman Dimtri Payet watching on from the stands, the injury he suffered in the Europa Conference League semi-final second leg against Feyenoord ruling him out of the remainder of the season. Top scorer Arkadiusz Milik, meanwhile, was only on the bench for Jorge Sampaoli’s side.
Mattéo Guendouzi did flash a dangerous ball across the face of goal but there were no takers, and Rennes fired a warning shot just after the half-hour mark as Bourigeaud almost made it 2-0, his shot being deflected past by Duje Caleta-Car. The second goal did arrive soon after, Terrier again the provider with a superb low cross from the left that was dispatched first-time by Lovro Majer for his sixth Ligue 1 Uber Eats goal (36’).
The hoped-for response from Marseille did not come after the break, with Bamba Dieng coming closest following his introduction. The Senegal international burst forward in front of Nayef Aguerd only to be denied by goalkeeper Alfred Gomis. Rennes then almost got a third, with Steve Mandanda producing a strong arm to tip over a Majer shot, but the home side comfortably saw the game out.
The win means Bruno Genesio’s side are now back in fourth and lie just three points behind Marseille in third. OM need just a draw next weekend at home to RC Strasbourg Alsace to guarantee a podium place and Champions League qualification, but a defeat for them or AS Monaco would allow Rennes to sneak in if they can win in Lille. In any event, Rennes do have fourth place and Europa League qualification in their own hands.
THE PLAYER: Benjamin Bourigeaud
What a season it has been for the former RC Lens midfielder. He came into the weekend with 13 assists, the same number as Lionel Messi and a tally bettered only by Kylian Mbappé. He then opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the campaign and was unfortunate not to score again before coming off to a standing ovation.
THE STAT: 50
Rennes have scored 50 goals at home this season in 19 games.
Meanwhile Monaco roared back from two goals down to beat Brest 4-2 at the Stade Louis II and claim a remarkable ninth consecutive victory to move into second place, above Marseille on goal difference. The evening began in disastrous fashion for Philippe Clément’s side as Jean-Kévin Duverne was played onside and allowed to give Brest a 10th-minute lead from close range.
Youcef Belaïli then made it 2-0 with a superb individual effort midway through the first half, but crucially Monaco reduced the deficit before half-time as Wissam Ben Yedder stroked home a penalty after a VAR review spotted a handball (44’).
Cue the second-half turnaround as Ben Yedder burst into the box and stabbed in to equalise five minutes after the restart and then completed his hat-trick to make it 3-2 as he headed in from an Aurélien Tchouaméni assist (54’). Kevin Volland then made the points safe with 20 minutes left as he reacted to score after Ben Yedder’s volley had been saved.
OGC Nice had started the day in fourth place and still in with a chance of qualifying for the Champions League, but a 3-1 defeat at home to LOSC Lille saw Christophe Galtier’s side slip out of the European places altogether and down to sixth.
Beaten in the Coupe de France final last weekend, Les Aiglons had bounced back to beat AS Saint-Etienne 4-2 at home in midweek and then went in front against Lille at the Allianz Riviera as Justin Kluivert – who had earlier hit the bar – swept home superbly in the 31st minute.
Andy Delort then saw a header hit both posts but fail to go in, and Lille came roaring back after the break. Jonathan David’s brace had Lille ahead by the hour mark, and Timothy Weah broke away to make it 3-1 in stoppage time.
That allowed RC Strasbourg Alsace to move above Nice into fifth as they beat Clermont Foot 63 1-0 at the Stade de la Meinau. Adrien Thomasson scored the only goal of the game with a tremendous 28th-minute header, and their superior goal difference to Nice means fifth place, and qualification for the Europa Conference League, is in their hands going into the final day. However, RC Lens are still in the running as they sit just two points behind in seventh after coming from behind to win 3-1 at ESTAC Troyes. Giulian Biancone put Troyes ahead but Kevin Danso, Arnaud Kalimuendo and Jonathan Clauss all scored for Lens.
Meanwhile, champions Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 4-0 victory away at Montpellier Hérault SC. Lionel Messi scored twice in the first 20 minutes at the Stade de la Mosson before Ángel di María’s deflected effort made it 3-0. Kylian Mbappé made it 4-0 with a penalty on the hour mark after he had been brought down in the area.