Week 37 Review: PSG clinch title, Evian down
By A. Scott
Paris Saint-Germain retained the Ligue 1 title on the penultimate weekend of the season as the last relegation place was decided, but the race for Champions League qualification is still on.
PSG only needed a point to secure their third consecutive title, but Laurent Blanc's side went one better. They beat Montpellier 2-1 at the Stade de la Mosson to make it eight league wins on the bounce, Blaise Matuidi and Ezequiel Lavezzi scoring to set the capital side on their way before Anthony Mounier pulled a goal back.
Wrapping up the league title moves Paris a step closer to an unprecedented clean sweep of the domestic trophies with the Coupe de France final against AJ Auxerre to come at the end of the month, and Blanc said: "Winning a third consecutive league title gives us a lot of joy. It was difficult to achieve this. Many in the press have been negative but we still took big points throughout the season and that made the difference. I predicted and hoped PSG would be champions, and we are."
"It's always special to win a title, but especially this season. We missed out on the Champions League, but we will try to win that next season," added captain Thiago Silva, after Paris were pushed almost all the way by an exciting Olympique Lyonnais side.
Lyon came up short but they did officially confirm second place and automatic qualification for the Champions League group stage with a 1-1 draw at home to Bordeaux, who will finish sixth and will go into the Europa League if PSG win the Coupe de France. Enzo Crivelli's first Ligue 1 goal put the visitors ahead at the Stade de Gerland but Nabil Fekir soon levelled with his 13th of the season.
Monaco primed to take third
Beneath Lyon, Monaco remain favourites to take third place and the last Champions League spot after labouring to a 2-0 win at home to relegated Metz. Bernardo Silva and Valère Germain got the goals at the Stade Louis II to keep Monaco two points clear of Olympique de Marseille and Saint-Etienne going into the final day.
Marseille claimed a third straight win in style, destroying Lille 4-0 at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy with André-Pierre Gignac, Rod Fanni, Romain Alessandrini and André Ayew all on target. The result means Marseille will definitely play in Europe next season and delighted OM coach Marcelo Bielsa said: "This was one of our best games of the season. Almost all of the players played at a very good level, the attack was effective and the defence strong. Finishing third depends on one more game, but we still have hope. Third has been within our grasp all season so we will be very disappointed if we don't manage it."
Saint-Etienne are in the same boat after a 2-1 win against Evian-Thonon-Gaillard in Annecy as Max-Alain Gradel scored twice including from a penalty to move onto 15 Ligue 1 goals for the season. Christophe Galtier's men are certain to be back in Europe next season while the result confirmed Evian's relegation after four years in Ligue 1. They had Kassim Abdallah sent off at the death, completing a miserable evening for coach Pascal Dupraz and his side.
Dupraz: 'A failure'
"My feeling has moved from disappointment to sadness. I feel like a failure. I accepted my mission when I took the job, and in my time here we have lived some very good moments. Unfortunately, we cannot participate in a fifth consecutive season in Ligue 1," Dupraz said.
That result ensured that Toulouse are safe despite Dominique Arribagé's side losing 2-1 away to 10-man Guingamp. Christophe Mandanne's opener for the hosts in Brittany was cancelled out by a Wissam Ben Yedder penalty but Claudio Beauvue headed in his 16th of the season for Guingamp and they held on after Christophe Kerbrat was sent off on the hour.
Another side breathing a sigh of relief was Lorient, who drew 1-1 at near neighbours Nantes with Johan Audel scoring for Les Canaris after Papy Mison Djilobodji had put through his own net at the other end. And Caen also discovered that they were safe after a 1-1 draw at SC Bastia as Sloan Privat and Floyd Ayité swapped goals in Corsica.
Reims beat Rennes 1-0 courtesy of a Gaëtan Charbonnier penalty and Nice came from behind to beat relegated Lens 2-1 as Jordan Amavi and Didier Digard scored after Yoann Touzghar netted for the visitors on the Côte d'Azur.