Week 38 Review: Tears flow on dramatic final day
There were tears of joy in France's North where Moussa Sow's hat-trick triggered Lille's championship celebrations, and tears of sadness in the South with news that seven-time champions Monaco were relegated on a dramatic final day of the season...
At a sold-out Stadium Nord and at the end of a week of unprecedented festivities, Lille were officially presented the third Ligue 1 trophy after defeating Rennes 3-2 thanks to a third triple of the season for Moussa Sow. Sow took his tally for the season to 25, three more than his nearest rival in the scoring charts: France international Kevin Gameiro.
Garcia: 'Undisputed champions!'
The win also saw Lille set a club record 76-point haul for the campaign, eight more than second-placed Marseille, and finishing the season with the best attack and second-best defence in Ligue 1.
LOSC coach Rudi Garcia hailed his side's achievements: "We wanted to finish with a beautiful match in front of our fans and that's what we've done. We have achieved all our aims this season. We're are the undisputed champions with the best attack in Ligue 1 and the top scorer in Moussa Sow. Personally, I've never seen such incredible scenes in this stadium before. We could feel the joy of our supporters down on the pitch and we're going to enjoy these moments with them."
Heartbreak for Monaco
While Lille were celebrating in the Nord, there was heartbreak in Monaco as the principality club joined Arles-Avignon and Lens, relegated to the second division.
An unprecedented seven sides started the day in danger of the drop: from 12th-placed Auxerre down to third-from-bottom Monaco.
Prince Albert's club, Ligue 1 champions for the seventh time in 2000 and Champions League finalists in 2004 knew that a victory over Lyon would secure their place in the top flight. However second-half goals from Pape Diakhaté and Lisandro Lopez's 17th of the season settled matters for OL who ensured they finish in the top three for the 13th consecutive season.
"Monaco are a monument of French football and I'm devastated for everyone that loves this club," said ASM coach Laurent Banide, choking back tears. "This season we've been punished for every single mistake we've made, but that's football and this season we weren't good enough to defend our place in Ligue 1. How can we be relegated with 44 pints? It's the worst thing that could happen to this club. We earned 25 points in the second half of the season. Some people think that perhaps it's a cloud with a silver lining; that the club can wipe the slate clean and start over from zero... maybe."
Monaco were relegated for the first time since returning to the top-flight in 1977.
Makelele and Coupet hang up the boots
Lyon's victory meant that Paris Saint-Germain's result away Saint-Etienne would have no impact on the battle for France's final Champions League qualification spot. PSG's Claude Makelele and Grégory Coupet were hoping to retire from football on a winning note, but were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard where Mathieu Bodmer's penalty cancelled out Joshua Guilavogui's opener for Les Verts.
Sochaux big winners
Sochaux were the big winners in Week 38 as Francis Gillot's side completed their stunning end to the season by registering a fifth win in their last six games, 3-1 over Arles-Avignon, to pip Rennes to fifth place. Ryad Boudebouz, Vincent Nogueira and Modibo Maïga fired home for a Sochaux side that have battled against relegation for the last three seasons.
2009 champions Bordeaux finished a difficult campaign on a high-note with a 2-0 home win over Montpellier, climbing to seventh in the process, while Toulouse defeated Brest by the same scoreline to finish in eighth.
A record 45 points to survive
While it still took a record 45 points to survive the drop this season, Monaco's loss meant that the other six club's fighting for their survival could breathe easy.
In the Match of Fear, the only game between relegation rivals, Valenciennes prevailed 2-1 at home to Nice, courtesy of Grégory Pujol's 16th and 17th goals of the season.
And Pablo Correa quit as Nancy coach with a clear conscience after seeing his side secure their place in the top flight for a seventh consecutive campaign thanks to a 4-0 win over already relegated Lens.