Tue, May 15, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Montpellier on the verge of first title

Reuters, Paris

Montpellier Herault goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren makes a save against LOSC Lille Metropole in their Ligue 1 match in Montpellier, France, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Karim Ait-Fana scored in stoppage-time to lift Montpellier Herault to a dramatic 1-0 win over third-placed LOSC Lille Metropole on Sunday to keep them three points clear of Paris Saint-Germain at the top of Ligue 1 with one match to play.

Montpellier, who have never won the French title, are on 79 points, with PSG on 76 after they thrashed Stade Rennais 3-0 at home thanks to a hat-trick by Nene.

“We believed in it until the end. What the lads did was fabulous,” Montpellier coach Rene Girard told French TV Canal+.

Montpellier travel to basement side AJ Auxerre, who are relegated, next weekend and PSG play at Lorient.

Both clubs secured Champions League places and Lille, who surrendered their title at the Stade de la Mosson and who are on 71 points, are set to feature in the qualifying round.

Girondins de Bordeaux climbed into the Europa League qualifying spot after Yoan Gouffran scored from the penalty spot in stoppage-time to help his side beat Lorient 1-0.

AJ Auxerre, who have been in the top flight since 1980, were relegated to Ligue 2 after they lost 3-0 at Olympque de Marseille.

France and Marseille striker Loic Remy left the pitch because of an adductor muscle injury which could rule him out of Euro 2012.

In Montpellier, the hosts were about to settle for a draw when Ligue 1 top scorer Olivier Giroud ran through from the middle of the pitch to set up Ait-Fana, who poked the ball into an empty net.

At the Parc des Princes, PSG also struggled before the break, but Nene and Jeremy Menez inspired them to an easy win early in the second half.

Nene scored the opener from close range in the 47th minute after Jeremy Menez ran through the right side to set him up.

The Brazilian curled a superb free-kick into the top corner on 58 minutes and netted his 21st league goal from the penalty spot.

Rennes fell to seventh spot on 57 points, one point behind Bordeaux.

They are still chasing a Europa League qualifying spot along with AS Saint-Etienne, who are sixth on 57 points after they lost 3-2 at mid-table AS Nancy-Lorraine, and Toulouse, who drew 1-1 at 19th-placed Dijon FCO to move up on 56 points.

Stade Brestois 29 beat Valenciennes 1-0, Stade Malherbe Caen lost 3-1 at home to Sochaux-Montbeliard and OGC Nice drew 1-1 with Evian Thonon Gaillard.

Elsewhere, Olympique Lyonnais were held to a 1-1 draw at 18th-placed AC Ajaccio.

Yoann Gourcuff, hoping to be named in France’s squad for Euro 2012, was sent off in the 50th minute after he was involved in a mass brawl.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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