Paris Saint-Germain wraps up French soccer title
Monaco needed win to stay alive, manage draw
Paris Saint-Germain won the French league title for the second straight season on Wednesday after its rival Monaco was held to a 1-1 draw by French Cup champion Guingamp.
The draw, which left second-place Monaco seven points behind with only two matches to play, meant that PSG could afford to slip to a 2-1 defeat against Rennes in front of its home fans in the late kickoff.
PSG took an early lead through Argentina winger Ezequiel Lavezzi, but relegation battler Rennes assured it will stay in the first division as it hit back with goals from midfielder Foued Kadir and forward Paul-Georges Ntep to dampen the atmosphere at Parc des Princes.
"The stadium was full and we couldn't win, unfortunately. But we won the title and that's the main thing," PSG midfielder Yohan Cabaye said.
For coach Laurent Blanc, it is a second title after guiding Bordeaux to the championship in the 2008-09 season, ending Lyon's run of seven straight titles.
Monaco looked to have delayed PSG's title celebrations for a little longer when forward Dimitar Berbatov headed home in the 77th minute, but Guingamp substitute Fatih Atik equalized with a volley in the 85th.
"PSG is a great team and they deserved it," Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said.
PSG, which was formed in 1970, has won four league titles. The club has invested massively in star players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Javier Pastore and Edinson Cavani, since Qatari investors, QSI, bought the club three years ago.
Although PSG has had a comfortable run to the title, there have been some far from convincing performances. In recent weeks, PSG laboured to a 1-0 win against Evian, drew 1-1 at Sochaux and lost to Rennes — all teams battling against relegation.
"It was a difficult game," captain Thiago Silva said. "We've had 10 good months, but the last month has not been good."
Against the other top four teams, PSG has won only one of five league games — at home to Saint-Etienne. PSG drew twice with Monaco, drew at home to Lille and needed a somewhat fortuitous goal from midfielder Blaise Matuidi to sneak a 2-2 draw at Saint-Etienne.
"The important thing is what we did before, we did a great job," goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu said. "We're happy, because physically and mentally we gave everything."
PSG's players were all smiles, shook hands in the tunnel and did high-fives before they took the field, with the crowd roaring in delight upon hearing the news from Stade Louis II that Monaco had drawn.
"We weren't thinking about Monaco, but before the game we were told that Monaco drew so that's why we were relaxed when we came out," Pastore said on Canal Plus television during the halftime break.
Last season, PSG won the league with 83 points — a total it has already equaled — and finished 12 points ahead of Marseille and 16 clear of Lyon.
PSG also won the League Cup in April, beating Lyon 2-1 in the final, but went out in the Champions League quarterfinals for the second straight season on the away goals rule, losing 2-0 to Chelsea after winning the home leg 3-1.
"I'm very happy with our season and our results. I think (it's a better season than last year) in terms of our results and our style of play," PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. "We were champions before the game so this game wasn't important — sorry for our fans."
Lavezzi sprinted onto Cavani's pass and slipped the ball under goalkeeper Benoit Costil for his 11th goal of the season.
Rennes levelled in the 23rd when Tiemoue Bakayoko crossed from the left and midfielder Foued Kadir collected the ball just inside the penalty area and drilled it past Sirigu. Four minutes later, Paul-Georges Ntep scored from a freekick that looped over the PSG defence.
PSG's last home defeat in the league was a 2-1 reverse against Rennes in November, 2012, although this season it lost at home to Montpellier in the French Cup in January.
Following a month out with a hamstring injury, Ibrahimovic made his return when he came on in the 56th minute, but was largely ineffective. Center half Alex hit the crossbar in the last minute as PSG pressed for an equalizer.
Earlier, Berbatov broke Guingamp's resistance when he headed in from close range after substitute Nabil Dirar's crossed from the right, taking his tally to nine in 14 games since joining from Premier League side Fulham on a six-month deal in January.
However, slack defending let in Guingamp, and Atik was left unmarked to volley in a loose ball inside the penalty area.
The draw gives 16th-place Guingamp a vital point in its relegation scrap, moving it two points above Sochaux in 18th spot.