20 May 2024, 09:54

Brest secure Champions League qualification, PSG win without Mbappe

PARIS, May 20, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Brest belied their status as one of the
smallest clubs in France's top flight as they secured Champions League
qualification for the first time in their history on Sunday, while Paris
Saint-Germain completed their Ligue 1 campaign by beating Metz 2-0 without
Kylian Mbappe.

Modest Brittany outfit Brest began the day in fourth place, behind Lille on
goal difference, with the top three in Ligue 1 going straight into next
season's expanded 36-team Champions League and the side in fourth entering in
the preliminary rounds.

Brest duly did their bit by easing to a 3-0 victory away at Toulouse thanks
to second-half goals by Mahdi Camara, Jordan Amavi and Kenny Lala.

They then needed a favour in Lille, and got one as the home side conceded
late to draw 2-2 with Nice.

Lille had trailed to an early Gaetan Laborde goal, but looked set to get the
victory they required when Hakon Haraldsson and Benjamin Andre scored after
the break to turn the game around.

However, Jordan Lotomba's injury-time strike earned a point for Nice, who
were already guaranteed to finish fifth and will be in the Europa League next

Lille, who reached the Champions League last 16 in 2022, will now have to
come through two qualifying rounds to get into the league stage of Europe's
elite club competition.

Brest had never previously finished above eighth in the top flight and so
will be playing in Europe for the very first time next season.

It is expected that Eric Roy's team will have to play home games in the
Champions League at a neutral venue as their own Stade Francis-Le Ble does
not meet UEFA requirements.

"It is difficult to describe the emotion. Even as a player I never
experienced emotions like it," said Roy, a former Marseille and Sunderland

"It is why we love football. I had already congratulated the lads for being
guaranteed a top-four place but there was one more stage to conquer.

"We thoroughly deserve it after the season we have had."

France captain Mbappe was left out of PSG's squad as the champions won away
at struggling Metz.

Mbappe, who will leave PSG at the end of the campaign after seven years, had
already missed his team's 2-1 victory at Nice in midweek due to a hamstring

He did not travel with the team to Metz and was one of several first-team
regulars who were rested by coach Luis Enrique, whose side had already
wrapped up the title.

Ousmane Dembele, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Marquinhos and Vitinha also played no
part but PSG still claimed the victory thanks to early goals by Carlos Soler
and Lee Kang-in.

Mbappe is still expected to play his last game for PSG in next week's French
Cup final against Lyon, before a likely move to Real Madrid for next season.

- Lyon qualify for Europe -

Despite their defeat, Metz could still stay up. They end the season in the
relegation play-off place, finishing above Lorient because they scored more
away goals in meetings between the two clubs.

Lorient's 5-0 win over Clermont meant they ended level with Metz on points
and goal difference, but the Brittany club go straight down to Ligue 2 with
Clermont, while Metz will get a second chance to survive in a play-off
against a side from the second tier.

Elsewhere, Lyon completed an astonishing turnaround in their fortunes as
Alexandre Lacazette's stoppage-time penalty secured a 2-1 win over Strasbourg
that saw them snatch European qualification.

Lyon had been rock bottom in early December and looked favourites for
relegation, but their revival under new coach Pierre Sage has been stunning.

They made it 15 wins in their last 20 league games with Lacazette getting the
decisive goal after his opener had been cancelled out by Habib Diarra.

Lyon finish sixth, pipping Lens after they squandered a two-goal lead to draw
2-2 with Montpellier.

Sage's team are therefore certain to play in the Europa League next season,
before going into the French Cup final against PSG next weekend, while Lens
finish seventh and will be in the Conference League.

In other games, runners-up Monaco crushed Nantes 4-0, while Marseille missed
out on a European place despite a 2-1 win at Le Havre, and Reims defeated
Rennes 2-1.



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