Mon, May 23, 2011 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Lille secure French title with 2-2 tie

SURE THING:Marseille’s draw assured that Lille would have won the title even if they had lost to PSG, who are still in the chase for a place in the Champions League

AFP, PARIS

Lille’s Gervinho, center, celebrates with his teammates after the final whistle of their match against Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday in Paris.

Photo: AFP

Lille claimed their first French league title since 1954 despite being held to a 2-2 draw at French Cup final victims Paris Saint-Germain in a heated encounter in Paris on Saturday.

Victors over PSG in last weekend’s cup showdown, Lille required just a point to complete the second league and cup double in their history and they procured it despite Mathieu Bodmer’s 73rd-minute equalizer for the hosts.

Moussa Sow had put Lille ahead 14 minutes earlier, after PSG striker Guillaume Hoarau and coach Antoine Kombouare had both been dismissed to the sound of whistles raining down from the Parc des Princes tribunes.

“All season they’ve been fantastic,” Lille coach Rudi Garcia said. “They’re a wonderful group. When they see each other again in 15 or 20 years, they’ll have some special memories to share.”

Lille’s players rushed to celebrate with the away fans at the final whistle, although second-placed Olympique de Marseille’s 2-2 draw at home to Valenciennes meant they would have been assured of the title even in case of defeat.

Meanwhile, Olympique Lyonnais’ 0-0 draw with Stade Malherbe Caen means PSG will go into their final game of the season at Saint-Etienne with a chance of pipping Lyon to a Champions League place.

Gregory Coupet’s hopes of keeping a clean sheet on his final appearance at Parc des Princes for PSG were dashed inside five minutes as his French Cup final nemesis Ludovic Obraniak put the visitors ahead.

It was a 90th-minute free-kick by Obraniak that embarrassed Coupet and gave Lille the cup at Stade de France, and the Polish winger was just as unerring with a low drive from the edge of the box that beat Coupet to his left.

PSG took the upper hand thereafter, with Hoarau flashing an overhead bicycle kick millimeters wide and Ludovic Giuly hitting the crossbar, before the hosts leveled in controversial circumstances in first-half injury-time.

While the visitors believed referee Lionel Jaffredo had blown the halftime whistle, Nene took a quick free-kick from which Hoarau slammed home the equalizer.

It provoked a furious reaction from Garcia, and his players, who were further aggrieved by the fact two PSG players were in offside positions.

However, the tables quickly turned in the second half with Hoarau sent off inside 20 seconds after being shown a second yellow card for a dive inside the Lille penalty area.

PSG’s mounting frustration saw Kombouare almost come to blows with the fourth official and after he was sent to the stands, Sow slid in to convert Mathieu Debuchy’s low cross and claim his 22nd goal of the season.

Despite being a man down PSG continued to press and after Giuly had rolled a low shot against the far post, Bodmer thumped home a tremendous equalizer via the underside of the crossbar to crown a game of fierce intensity.

In the day’s other games, a Brown Ideye double saw Sochaux defeat Saint-Etienne 2-1 to guarantee at least a sixth-place finish and a berth in next season’s Europa League.

Marseille secured second place and direct Champions League qualification with their point against Valenciennes, but Lyon’s goalless draw means they must win at Monaco on next Sunday’s final day to be sure of finishing third.

Monaco will go into the game at Stade Louis II in the relegation zone, despite Benjamin Moukandjo’s goal securing a 1-0 win at Montpellier.

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