Pepe scores twice for Lille, Lyon seals 3rd in Ligue 1
PARIS (AP) — Lyon sealed third place and Champions League football after beating Caen 4-0 in the French league on Saturday while the in-demand Nicolas Pepe scored twice for Lille.
Lille thrashed Angers 5-0, with Pepe scoring in each half to lift his tally to 22 league goals. Only Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, with 32, has more.
Pepe’s feats for second-placed Lille have made the technically skillful and fast forward one of the most sought-after players in Europe, amid reports of interest from Manchester United and Liverpool.
Lille president Gerard Lopez said last month the 23-year-old Pepe would be sold next season.
“If he goes to a big club with good infrastructure, he will become even better,” Lille coach Christophe Galtier said.
With one round left, Lille kept a six-point lead over Lyon intact.
A second-half brace from Memphis Depay and goals from Maxwel Cornet and Moussa Dembele secured the win for Lyon, which should start the Champions League in the qualifying rounds.
Lyon will go direct into the group stage if Chelsea, which has already qualified, wins the Europa League final against Arsenal.
“It’s beautiful, we wanted to win the match and finish on a high, we validated our ticket,” said Lyon coach Bruno Genesio, who will be leaving at the end of the season.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed Genesio will be replaced by Brazil’s Sylvinho. The former Barcelona and Arsenal player had been assisting Brazil coach Tite.
Playing their final home game, Paris Saint-Germain players received their French champion trophy and celebrated their sixth title in seven seasons with a 4-0 win over Dijon.
Without the suspended Neymar, PSG built up a 3-0 lead in 36 minutes with goals from Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani, and Mbappe.
The World Cup-winning Mbappe completed a brace just after halftime with a chipped ball over goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson to become the first French player to score at least 32 in a season since Philippe Gondet with Nantes in 1966.
SAINT-ETIENNE IN EUROPA LEAGUE
Behind the leading trio, Saint-Etienne secured fourth place and will play in the Europa League after a two-year absence from the second-tier tournament.
Saint-Etienne striker Robert Beric scored twice and Romain Hamouma added a late goal in a buoyant atmosphere at Geoffroy Guichard Stadium as visiting Nice was beaten 3-0.
Monaco has yet to salvage its place in the top flight, but it made a big step toward safety with a much-needed 2-0 win over fellow struggler Amiens.
Radamel Falcao and Aleksandr Golovin scored to notch Monaco’s first win since mid-March, and lifted Leonardo Jardim’s side three points above 18th place Caen.
“It’s a huge step but it’s not over,” Falcao said.
With last-placed Guingamp already guaranteed of going down and 19th-placed Dijon lagging five points behind Monaco, the Principality side needs one more point in Nice next week to be guaranteed of avoiding a relegation playoff.
Runner-up to PSG last term, Monaco went through a calamitous season marked by the sacking and re-hiring of Jardim, who returned after Thierry Henry’s maiden manager experience was a failure.