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Champions PSG lose on Messi farewell, Auxerre relegated from Ligue 1

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PARIS: Paris St Germain said an unhappy farewell to Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos while Auxerre’s short Ligue 1 stay ended after a 3-1 defeat to Lens confirmed their relegation on the final day of the season on Saturday.

Stade Rennais sealed a Europa League place after they beat Brest 2-1 and secure European League football for the sixth season in a row, but Lille’s 1-1 draw at Troyes means they have to settle for the Conference League.

Messi, who ends his PSG career with 32 goals in 75 appearances, was jeered by some fans during the match, which the champions lost 3-2 to Clermont Foot.

There was little riding on the game itself after PSG wrapped up a record 11th French title last weekend, and Christophe Galtier’s side contrived to throw away a two-goal lead.

Ramos, whose own departure from PSG was confirmed on Friday, marked his final appearance by heading in a Vitinha cross for the opener in the 16th minute.

Kylian Mbappe, looking to end a fifth consecutive campaign as Ligue 1’s top scorer, then scored a penalty to make it 2-0 with his 29th league goal this season.

Johan Gastien pounced on a Marco Verratti mistake to pull a goal back for Clermont, who then saw Grejohn Kyei miss a penalty.

The visitors equalised in first-half stoppage time through Mehdi Zeffane, and Kyei secured a famous win in the second half as they end the season in eighth place.

The PSG players and technical team received the Ligue 1 trophy after the game but there were also loud boos from around the stadium for coach Galtier, who took charge of his 50th, and possibly last, fixture with the side.

“On the pitch we were already champions. We could have lost 22-0 and that would not have changed anything for us.” Mbappe told broadcaster Canal Plus after PSG suffered a seventh league defeat in 2023.

Asked about his own future in Paris, France star Mbappe said: “I am just here to play. I am still under contract. The club is doing what it can and I will be happy with whatever the club does.”

Meanwhile, Auxerre’s loss, coupled with a 1-0 victory for Nantes at home to Angers, meant a return to the second tier after one season, and they join Troyes, Ajaccio and Angers through the Ligue 1 trap-door as the division is cut from 20 clubs to 18 in 2023-24.

PSG and Lens had already secured their places in the Champions League group stages next season going into the final weekend, while Olympique de Marseille — who lost 1-0 to Ajaccio — knew they would enter in the third qualifying round.

In the relegation scrap, Nantes led early in their must-win game as Ignatius Ganago rifled the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards.

That proved enough for survival on a nervous night as they extend their 10-year top-flight stay.

Auxerre knew victory against Lens would see them safe but those hopes were dealt a blow when Alexis Claude-Maurice put the visitors in front after poor defending opened up a shooting opportunity.

Claude-Maurice was gifted a second goal following an error from Auxerre goalkeeper Ionut Radu, who rushed out of his goal but failed to collect the ball, allowing the forward to make the score 2-0.

M’Baye Niang briefly gave Auxerre hope, but Lois Openda restored the two-goal cushion for Lens and sealed the home side’s fate.

Elsewhere, Monaco, beaten 2-1 at home by Toulouse, finish sixth and miss out on European qualification altogether.

Nice beat Olympique Lyonnais 3-1, while Lorient were 2-1 winners against Strasbourg and Folarin Balogun scored his 21st goal this season as Reims lost 3-1 to Montpellier.


(Tabulated under played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Paris St Germain 38 27 4 7 89 40 85

RC Lens 38 25 9 4 68 29 84

Olympique de Marseille 38 22 7 9 67 40 73

Stade Rennais 38 21 5 12 69 39 68

Lille 38 19 10 9 65 44 67

AS Monaco 38 19 8 11 70 58 65

Olympique Lyonnais 38 18 8 12 65 47 62

Clermont Foot 38 17 8 13 45 49 59

OGC Nice 38 15 13 10 48 37 58

Lorient 38 15 10 13 52 53 55

Stade de Reims 38 12 15 11 45 45 51

Montpellier 38 15 5 18 65 62 50

Toulouse 38 13 9 16 51 57 48

Stade Brestois 38 11 11 16 44 54 44

RC Strasbourg 38 9 13 16 51 59 40

Nantes 38 7 15 16 37 55 36

AJ Auxerre 38 8 11 19 35 63 35

AC Ajaccio 38 7 5 26 23 74 26

Troyes 38 4 12 22 45 81 24

Angers 38 4 6 28 33 81 18

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2023

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