FC Nantes ensured their Ligue 1 Uber Eats survival with a 1-0 win over Angers SCO at the Stade de la Beaujoire that saw them leapfrog AJ Auxerre - who lost 3-1 to RC Lens - into 16th place.
Nantes knew that anything but victory would end their nine-year stay in the French top flight and they started brightly against their already-relegated visitors, with Marcus Coco volleying an effort narrowly wide of Yahia Fofana's goal (8'). Les Canaris took the lead soon after, following some brilliant work on the wing by Ludovic Blas, who then cut back for Ignatius Ganago to fire high into the net for 1-0 (16'). With news filtering through that Lens were leading Auxerre thanks to an Alexis Claude-Maurice striker, Nantes had their tails up and might have pulled further clear when Blas cut inside and let fly on his stronger left foot, but this time Fofana was equal to it (28'). The home support had their hearts in their mouths when Abdallah Sima scored after being teed up by Nabil Bentaleb (43'), but the the Brighton-owned forward's effort was ruled out for offside (43') and Nantes carried their 1-0 lead into the interval.
Nantes see it out
Despite that scare at the end of the first half, Nantes remained in the ascendancy into the second and Blas saw another effort saved by Fofana (47') before they had a penalty claim ruled out after VAR review, with Yan Valery adjudged not to have fouled Ganago (50'). With Claude-Maurice adding a second 500 kilometres east in Auxerre minutes earlier, the pressure on Nantes lifted, and they were happy to sit back and pick Angers off on the break. Ganago had their next chance when he found space in the box but Pierrick Capelle recovered the danger (67'). Loïs Diony tried to get Angers going at the other end but his ball into Sima was picked off the striker's toe by Jean-Charles Castelletto (72') and Nantes closed out the win that ensured their survival.
THE PLAYER: Ludovic Blas
Blas has far too much class to be playing Ligue 2 BKT football next season and he was a constant threat throughout at the Stade de la Beaujoire. The former France youth international concludes the season with seven goals and five assists, tallied at a rate of one inside every three games - not bad when playing for a relegation-threatened team.
THE STAT: 4
This was the first time in four attempts that Nantes have beaten Angers in all competitions. Their previous three meetings were all draws, and the same again here would have spelt doom for Nantes regardless of Auxerre's score against Lens.
Auxerre 1-3 Lens
Auxerre had pushed Lens as hard as they could at the Stade de l'Abbé-Deschamps, despite going 2-0 down to the aforementioned Claude-Maurice brace. M'Baye Niang pulled one back (71') before Loïs Openda looked to have made the game safe with his 21st goal of the season (78') but Jubal would have set up a nervy finish had his late strike not been ruled out for offsice (90'+3).
Ajaccio 1-0 Marseille
AC Ajaccio will be joining Auxerre in Ligue 1 BKT next season, but they went out on a high in beating Olympique de Marseille 1-0 at the Stade François Coty, with Clément Vidal getting the only goal (88') of what was OM manager Igor Tudor's final game.
Lorient 2-1 Strasbourg
Elsewhere, Romain Faivre bagged a brace (10', 36') as FC Lorient concluded their season with a 2-1 win over RC Strasbourg Alsace. Jean-Ricner Bellegarde pulled one back for le Racing (57') but it was too little too late.
Reims 1-3 Montpellier
Elye Wahi also scored a double (54', 76') as Montpellier Hérault SC beat Stade de Reims 3-1 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune. Folarin Balogun had opened the scoring in his final outing before returning to parent club Arsenal (28') but Wahi's brace and another goal from Arnaud Nordin (59') put the game beyond reach for Will Still and Co.