Stade Rennais FC secured fifth place and UEFA Europa League football next season with a 1-1 draw at home to Montpellier Hérault SC on the final day of the campaign on Saturday.
Stade Rennais FC 1-1 Montpellier Hérault SC
Rennes knew at least a point would ensure their best finish since they came fourth in 2004/05. They needed a touch of fortune to open the scoring though: a clearance ricocheting off Joris Gnagnon and into the patch of Adrien Hunou, who grabbed his third goal in as many league games (14').
Montpellier had dropped out of the top-six hunt with a run of two wins in their previous 12 before kick-off, but have been devillishly difficult to beat and Michel Der Zakarian's men were soon back in it.
Rennes felt they should have had a free-kick when Jérémy Gelin came off second-best in a challenge with the Bretons' former striker, Giovanni Sio. Play was waved on, and the Ivory Coast international provided the ideal ball for Issac Mbenza to drill home his eighth of the campaign (18).
A Sio shot almost gave Montpellier the lead, but a deflection off Hamari Traoré's back took the ball onto the crossbar (27') before Gelin cleared an Mbenza shot off the line (38').
Lecomte turned a James Léa Siliki effort round the post (45'), but his opposite number, Tomas Koubek, was far the busier. The Czech produced a fine double save to deny Mbenza with his feet and then Sio with a flying dive early in the second half (52').
He also beat out an Amboise Oyongo drive (84') to ensure Rennes picked up the point they needed, and clinch a place in next season's UEFA Europa League group stage.
THE PLAYER: Ramy Bensebaini
Up against his former club, the Algerian defender was excellent. Played in a left-back role that he has grown into, he contributed going forward and did his day job at the back effectively.
THE STAT: 14
Rennes scored in their final 14 league games of the season, a streak they had not managed since 1998/99.