Lens win forces PSG to wait for Ligue 1 title

·3-min read
Lens players celebrate after Adrien Thomasson scored their second goal against Lorient on Sunday
Lens players celebrate after Adrien Thomasson scored their second goal against Lorient on Sunday

Lens came from behind to win 3-1 at Lorient on Sunday to all but secure a place in next season's Champions League group stage and deny Paris Saint-Germain the chance to wrap up the French title this weekend.

PSG started the day six points clear at the top of Ligue 1 and needed Lens to drop points in Brittany to be able to be crowned champions at Auxerre later.

It was looking good for Paris when Romain Faivre put Lorient ahead inside six minutes, pouncing to score after Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba was put under pressure at a throw-in.

Yet Lens have enjoyed a fantastic campaign and came roaring back to record a fifth straight victory, equalising when a Florian Sotoca shot deflected in on 20 minutes.

Adrien Thomasson capitalised on poor defending to put Lens in front five minutes later, with captain Seko Fofana wrapping up the points on the counterattack late on.

Lens have won nine of their last 10 games, the exception being a 3-1 defeat away to PSG last month.

The Qatar-owned club's celebration champagne will therefore have to remain on ice in Auxerre, although a win for Christophe Galtier's side will mean they are champions in all but name.

PSG would be once again six points ahead with two games left, and with a far superior goal difference, as they eye a ninth title in the last 11 seasons and a record 11th French crown overall.

Lens, however, are chiefly focused on securing second place and direct qualification for next season's Champions League group stage, a level the club last appeared at two decades ago.

They are five points ahead of third-placed Marseille with two games to go. Third place enters the Champions League in the third qualifying round.

"There is no such thing as 'almost' in the Champions League in the mind of a coach," said prudent Lens manager Franck Haise.

"You are either qualified or you're not, and for the moment we are not."

Elsewhere on Sunday, Rennes kept alive their hopes of qualifying for Europe for a sixth consecutive season as Amine Gouiri scored a hat-trick in their 5-0 win away at already-relegated Ajaccio.

Baptiste Santamaria and Belgian international Jeremy Doku also scored for Rennes, who remain sixth with two games left, and with only the top five qualifying for Europe.

However, they are just a point adrift of Lille and three points behind fourth-placed Monaco, who they face next weekend.

Fourth place goes into the Europa League while fifth qualifies for the Europa Conference League.

Folarin Balogun completed the week in which he switched international allegiance from England to the United States by scoring his 20th Ligue 1 goal this season for Reims as they drew 2-2 with Angers.

Brest secured top-flight survival by coming from behind to win 2-1 at home to Clermont, while Strasbourg's 1-1 draw away at Troyes means they are all but safe, sitting six points clear of the bottom four with six points to play for.