Lille holds on to win French title by 1 point from PSG
MONACO (AP) — Lille upset the odds to win its first French championship in 10 years, edging defending champion Paris Saint-Germain by one point as an enthralling title race ended on Sunday.
PSG had to better Lille’s result, but Lille won 2-1 at Angers and PSG won 2-0 at Brest in one of the most exciting French seasons for many years.
Victory gave Lille a fourth French crown and stopped PSG from sealing a record-equaling 10th to join Marseille and Saint-Etienne.
“It’s just exceptional, it was a long day with a lot of pressure,” Lille coach Christophe Galtier said. “Beating PSG in a championship is something exceptional. The players were incredible ... all credit goes to them, they are the heroes.”
Neymar missed a penalty before Kylian Mbappe netted his league-leading 27th goal in vain on the night he was voted the league’s best player and Galtier was named best coach for the third time.
“Finishing top scorer in the league for the third time is something to be proud of, but it’s not the moment to rejoice,” said Mbappe, who is touted to join Spanish giant Real Madrid next season. “We lost the title and it’s time to concentrate on the future.”
Canada forward Jonathan David opened the scoring early for Lille and then won a penalty converted by Turkey veteran Burak Yilmaz just before the break.
Angers grabbed an injury-time consolation to cause some late nerves, but Lille had just a few seconds to wait after restarting the game before celebrating a remarkable achievement.
Lille lost only three games compared to eight for PSG, and Lille also conceded the fewest goals while keeping the most clean sheets.
Elsewhere, Monaco drew 0-0 at Lens to secure third and a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds, with Lyon two points back in fourth.
Monaco had a shot at a ninth title, but needed both its rivals to lose to make up three points on Lille and an inferior goal difference of six compared to Lille.
The outcome of such an unusually intense French title race achieved the rare feat of resonating way beyond the nation. Broadcast rights for the final day’s simultaneous coverage of the 10 matches were sold to nearly 100 countries, the French league said.
Lyon fluffed its chances by losing 3-2 at home to Nice and enters the Europa League along with fifth-place Marseille.
Lyon coach Rudi Garcia, who coached Lille’s previous title success, confirmed he will leave the club.
“We are very disappointed tonight. It’s a nightmare scenario,” Garcia said. “It’s my last match. I would have liked to leave with the club in the Champions League (but) the adventure ends here.”
Lyon forward Memphis Depay finished top in the league with 12 assists in his final season with the club. He is touted to join either Barcelona or Juventus and thanked Lyon’s fans after 75 goals in 176 games since joining from Manchester United in January 2017.
“I have really appreciated what you gave me as a player,” the Netherlands forward said. “I really appreciated how you were with me and I have a lot of respect for you. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.”
Brest stayed up by one point from eight-time champion Nantes, which lost 2-1 at home to Montpellier to finish in 18th and the promotion-relegation playoff spot with second-tier Toulouse.
Nimes and last-place Dijon were already relegated before the final round of games.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports