Montpellier wins to close on maiden Ligue 1 victory

Montpellier wins to close on maiden Ligue 1 victory

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Montpellier wins to close on maiden Ligue 1 victory

Montpellier players celebrate at the end of their French Ligue 1 football match against Rennes. After the 2-0 win, Montpellier maintained its commanding position to win its debut league title ahead of PSG and Lille. REUTERS photo

Montpellier took a significant step towards its first ever Ligue 1 title by winning 2-0 at Rennes on May 7 to restore its three-point lead over Paris Saint-Germain with two games to play.

PSG had gone top on goals scored by winning 4-3 at Valenciennes on May 6, but Montpellier is now in pole position ahead of a home game with reigning champion Lille next weekend that could decide the destiny of the title.

“The president (Louis Nicollin) was on the bench, everyone was there, and we showed that we’ll take some catching,” said Montpellier coach Rene Girard, whose side requires four points for the title. “Before Evian, everyone said it was over and that we were too far in front, and we saw what happened (Montpellier drew 2-2). We’ll keep going.

“We have a big match against Lille and we have to take the points. We’ll keep plugging away and prepare our match against Lille.”

The visitors took the lead with their first attempt on target in the 26th minute when Souleymane Camara smashed home from close range to partially atone for his unsuccessful injury-time penalty in last week’s 2-2 draw with Evian.

Montpellier’s second goal in the second half owed much to fortune, with Remy Cabella’s low drive bouncing off the base of the post before rebounding into the net off Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil.
Despite the defeat, Rennes remains on course for a fifth-place finish although it now leads sixth-placed Saint-Etienne on goal difference alone.

Lille must beat Montpellier next weekend to stand any chance of retaining its title but it at least secured a Champions League place by comfortably winning 3-0 at home to Caen.