Ligue 1 Final Day Wrap
Although the drama was almost exclusive to the top end of the table as four sides were vying for the final Champions League qualification spot and one Europa League berth.
With continental competition already assured for Christophe Galtier’s side by virtue of their Coupe de la Ligue victory over Rennes, Saint-Etienne were in Lille hoping to beat their rivals to snatch the spot.
Lille themselves needed Europe to salvage what has been an inconsistent season and perhaps to avoid further departures for financial reasons as Cameroonian defender Aurelien Chedjou played his last match.
Lyon hosted mid-table Rennes knowing that a win was enough to secure third place and Champions League football next season, vital for Remi Garde’s side.
Nice needed to beat Ajaccio and hope that results went their way to cap an astonishing season with continental qualification.
Troyes travelled to Valenciennes needing to win and hoping that Sochaux were beaten by Ajaccio’s Corsican neighbours, Bastia, on the island.
Paris Saint-Germain travelled to Lorient with Zlatan Ibrahimovic needing two goals to overtake a 23-year-old record of the most goals scored in a Ligue 1 season since 1989/90. Marseille’s Jean-Pierre Papin was the last player to score 30 goals or more in a single top-flight season, and the Swede was out to cap a fine year, starting the day on 29.
Here’s how it went down.
Lille 1-1 Saint-Etienne
Lille and Saint-Etienne played out a draw that sees both sides finish outside of the European qualification places.
Les Verts are already assured of continental football next season after their League Cup triumph, but for Rudi Garcia’s side it is a bitter blow.
The 2011 champions couldn’t even break down the 10 men of Saint-Etienne after recent France call-up Josuha Guilavogui was dismissed for a foul on Rio Mavuba.
Salomon Kalou opened the scoring with his 14th goal of the season three minutes before half-time.
But that was cancelled out by Romain Hamouma’s low finish on the hour mark.
It finished 1-1; Lille will be out of Europe next year, and Saint-Etienne will have to settle for Europa League football.
Lyon 2-0 Rennes
Had either side won, it would have been in vain because Lyon secured a 2-0 win at home to struggling Rennes.
Goals from Lisandro Lopez and Arsenal target Clement Grenier, according to Goal.com, secured a 14th podium finish in 15 seasons for OL. Grenier was watched during the game by Gunners scout Gilles Grimandi.
Lopez’s was a penalty midway through the first half and was his 59th league goal for the club, probably his last too judging by the scenes when he exited the pitch.
Grenier’s, though, was a sensational free-kick, drilled in off the underside of the crossbar Juninho Pernambucano-style.
It finished 2-0, and European football was secured for Lyon.
Ajaccio 0-2 Nice
Nice ended the season in style with a 2-0 win at struggling Ajaccio; they secured fourth spot and with it Europa League football.
Claude Puel’s miracle-working has secured a best top-flight finish since 1975/76, and Les Aiglons were full value for victory and, more importantly, qualification.
Goals from Dario Cvitanich in the 50th minute and Eric Bautheac 13 minutes from time secured the win.
Although Ajaccio knew that only a seven-goal win and Troyes victory could send them down, the defeat pushed them closer to the drop zone and secured fourth spot by a point.
Valenciennes 2-1 Troyes
Troyes went to Valenciennes needing a win but also needing results elsewhere to do them a favour and keep their fight alive.
At half-time, it looked as though it might happen.
Jean-Marc Furlan’s side were 1-0 up thanks to veteran Benjamin Nivet’s 12th-minute strike. But second-half goals courtesy of a Florian Jarjat own goal midway through the second half and a late Gregory Pujol strike signalled their doom.
The final score was 2-1—Troyes went down, and they finished lower than Nancy in the end, who signed off with a 2-1 win at Brest.
Bastia 0-0 Sochaux
A positive result would have been futile, however, as Bastia and Sochaux shared a goalless draw, securing Les Lionceaux’s future.
Eric Hely’s side avoided the drop of the final day for a second successive season, but it was an otherwise nondescript encounter.
It finished 0-0.
Lorient 1-3 PSG
Although it had nothing riding on it, Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-1 win in Lorient extended the capital club’s league-winning margin to 12 points over Marseille.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, looking to better or equal Jean-Pierre Papin’s last 30-plus goals tally for a season, equalled the record with a 51st-minute chested finish.
Kevin Gameiro, returning to face his former club, came on as an 18th-minute substitute for the injured Ezequiel Lavezzi and bagged a brace just after the hour.
Ludovic Giuly and PSG veteran goalkeeper Ronan Le Crom were ending their playing careers. Giuly, a former PSG man, was presented with a gift of a shirt by captain Sylvain Armand as he departed the field to rapturous applause.
Le Crom, however, was less fortunate, he was given a straight red card nine minutes from time after conceding a penalty.
Having substituted 20-year-old Aphonse Areola earlier in the game, Carlo Ancelotti sent on French international defender Mamadou Sakho for a short stint in goal. Arnaud Le Lan slammed the penalty home.
It ended in a 3-1 victory for PSG; a promising season for Lorient ends in eighth place and disappointment at not being able to qualify for Europe either through the league or the French Cup.