Ligue 1 European battle: Rennes secure Europa League spot as Lyon and Monaco falter

Ligue 1 European battle: Rennes secure Europa League spot as Lyon and Monaco falter
Rennes were the biggest winners of the day in the clubs scrapping for European spots in Ligue 1
Rennes were the biggest winners of the day in the clubs scrapping for European spots in Ligue 1
Rennes secured fourth in the Ligue 1 standings with a 2-1 win over Brest, seeing them qualify for next season's Europa League. Lille finished in fifth for Europa Conference League football in the 2023/24 season after a 1-1 draw with Troyes.

Brest 1 Rennes 2

Benjamin Bourigeaud’s first-half brace was enough to secure Rennes UEFA Europa League football next season as they leapfrogged Lille into fourth thanks to a 2-1 win over Brest on the final day of the Ligue 1 season. 

Rennes were looking to secure European football for next season with a victory against Brest, who were playing only for pride after three consecutive wins had put them 11 points ahead of the dreaded drop zone.

The visitors were also on a three-game winning streak and with their sights set on a European spot, they came flying out of the blocks. Rennes deservedly took the lead in the 13th minute when Bourigeaud curled in his seventh goal of the season with a sumptuous free-kick into the bottom corner to settle any final-day nerves.

Brest struggled to get a foothold in the game after going behind. Still, they were presented a golden opportunity to level the scoreline when Hamari Traore was adjudged to have handled the ball in his own area when he blocked a Jeremy Le Douaron effort.

Haris Belkebla stepped up and cooly dispatched his effort from the spot to make it 1-1. The first half ended in dramatic fashion when Jerome Brisard awarded his second penalty of the game.

This time to Rennes after Pierre Lees-Melou fouled Lovro Majer, allowing Bourigeaud to score his second set-piece goal of the match, with an emphatic penalty into the top corner, making it 2-1 at the break.

Bourigeaud came inches away from completing his hat-trick after the restart when he latched onto a poor clearance and fired a low effort just wide of the post as Rennes crept closer to winning their first final-day league game in three years.

Brest pushed the visitors right to the end but ultimately couldn’t find the breakthrough they needed, seeing Brest finish 14th as they ahead of another season in top-flight football.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Benjamin Bourigeaud (Rennes)

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Monaco 1 Toulouse 2

Toulouse extended their unbeaten away run in Ligue 1 to five games, as substitute Rhys Healey’s last-minute winner ended Monaco’s European hopes in a season to forget for Les Monegasques.

With a European place still just about in reach for a Monaco side hoping for results to go their way, Les Monegasques squared off against Toulouse, who had, by contrast, little riding on the result to close the Ligue 1 season, having already secured European football through their Coupe de France win earlier in the campaign.

Goalless in over three hours at home in Ligue 1, however, Monaco’s lack of edge going forward provided manager Philippe Clement with an instant stumbling block in an uneventful start, in which both goalkeepers remained untested.

When the game finally saw some goalmouth action, it came at the wrong end for the under pressure hosts, who were lucky to remain level when Veljko Birmancevic found himself unmarked on the end of a Toulouse corner only to see his effort expertly parried away by Alexander Nubel.

The chance did manage to spark the hosts into life, though, soon resulting in an opportunity of their own through Wissam Ben Yedder, who found space inside the six-yard box, before being denied by the outstretched leg of Maxime Dupé just before the break.

After watching his side extend their goalless run in the first half, Clement rolled the dice once more in an attempt to finally find the goal that Monaco needed, introducing both Breel Embolo and Edan Diop before the hour mark. With Rennes taking the lead elsewhere, too, Monaco’s European aspirations were only further discouraged.

The chances to help towards changing Les Monegasques’ fate didn’t look like coming, either, and matters only got worse when Toulouse took the lead to all but end any remaining Monaco hope.

Coming through substitute Zakaria Aboukhlal, the forward was perfectly placed to take advantage of a loose ball inside the hosts’ box to coolly find the bottom right-hand corner in the 71st minute.

The hosts were given brief hope when Ben Yedder tapped home from Embolo’s precise cutback in the 79th minute, but substitute Healey’s last-gasp strike compounded the Monaco misery to hand Toulouse a final day victory.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Rhys Healey (Toulouse)

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Nice 3 Lyon 1

In the fixture played most often on the final matchday (eight) in Ligue 1 history, Nice ran out 3-1 winners against Lyon thanks to a first-half blitz at the Allianz Riviera, sealing their first win in three meetings against Les Gones.

Free-scoring Lyon had netted 33 times in their last nine matches, but it was at the back where they were having trouble in the early going, flailing behind inside 10 minutes.

It was an error of their own making though, as Jerome Boateng inadvertently passed the ball into his own net beyond an onrushing Anthony Lopes to give Nice the lead.

Les Gones, led by Alexandre Lacazette up front, came agonsingly close with successive close calls as the minutes passed by, but eventually conceded twice more against the run of play, leaving them with a mountain to climb.

It was Gaetan Laborde who first netted a goalmouth header following a rebound, before loanee Terem Moffi tapped home an easy finish to score against Lyon in a third successive personal head-to-head.

All hope was not lost for Laurent Blanc’s men heading into the break though, as Jeffinho executed a brilliant effort to lodge the ball into the bottom corner and reduce the arrears, denying the hosts a ninth successive meetings without a clean sheet.

However, as hard as Lyon attempted to turn the tide in their favour, Nice refused to budge as they aimed for just a seventh home win of the campaign.

The Eaglets ultimately emerged unscathed in the second period, thanks largely to Lyon’s inefficiency in attack. They end a rather disappointing season with a win, but will expect yet another summer overhaul in a bid to compete domestically next campaign.

The story is no different for Lyon either, as they prepare to start afresh after longtime patron Jean-Michel Aulas stepped down from his role earlier last month after more than three decades at the helm.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Terem Moffi (Nice)

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Troyes 1 Lille 1

Lille had to settle for a place in the 2023/24 UEFA Europa Conference League, after they dropped down to fifth position following a 1-1 draw against relegated Troyes.

After beating Nantes 2-1 in their previous outing, Lille entered the Ligue 1 finale of 2022/23 with Europa League qualification in their own hands.

In turn, the visitors quickly stamped their authority on proceedings by controlling possession and dictating the pace of the contest, but they had to settle for mere half-chances in the opening half-hour.

Jonathan Bamba firstly sent effort harmlessly wide after playing a neat one-two with Remy Cabella, before Gauthier Gallon made a routine stop to deny Angel Gomes.

The precedent for Lille dominance had been set regardless, and Gallon was given a much tougher test in the 34th minute, when he was forced to tip Gomes’ thunderous long-range strike onto the crossbar.

Moments after Jonathan Bamba had an effort disallowed for an offside infringement, Gomes rattled the woodwork once again, as his curling free-kick hit the outside of the post, ensuring a relieved Troyes side scraped through to the break by the skin of their teeth.

Lille would have been left cursing their luck when they had a second goal chalked off within a minute of a restart.

Adam Ounas was denied his second goal of the season due to offside in the build-up, but Lille’s persistence was eventually rewarded in the 52nd minute, when Bamba expertly worked the space to cut the ball back to Bafode Diakite, who wrong-footed Gallon with a miscued effort to put Le LOSC firmly in the driving seat for fourth place.

Having offered very little in an attacking sense, Troyes looked to be down and out until former Lille man Rony Lopes conjured up an equalising goal, after he collected the ball on the edge of the box and curled it past an outstretched Lucas Chevalier.

After giving up the lead, the visitors saw a late penalty opportunity overturned, ensuring they had to settle for a draw and a fifth-place finish. Despite picking up a point, Troyes end the campaign with one home league win, and will now prepare for life in the second tier.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Bafode Diakite (Lille)

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