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Lille celebrating breakthrough double

Published: Sunday 22 May 2011, 18.28CET
LOSC Lille Métropole coach Rudi Garcia is still waiting for his team's achievements to "sink in" after they completed a league and cup double by wrapping up the Ligue 1 title.
by Christian Châtelet
from Paris
Lille celebrating breakthrough double
Lille supporters celebrate their team's title win on the streets of the northern city ©Getty Images
Published: Sunday 22 May 2011, 18.28CET

Lille celebrating breakthrough double

LOSC Lille Métropole coach Rudi Garcia is still waiting for his team's achievements to "sink in" after they completed a league and cup double by wrapping up the Ligue 1 title.

LOSC Lille Métropole coach Rudi Garcia said his team's achievements have yet to "sink in" after they added their first Ligue 1 title in 57 years to last week's French Cup triumph.

It has to sink in a little bit that we've gone down in French football history. I'm particularly happy to have achieved this victory with a squad of likeable, talented and hard-working players
Rudi Garcia

A 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain FC on Saturday moved the northern club an unassailable six points clear of outgoing champions Olympique de Marseille, with Ludovic Obraniak and Moussa Sow finding the net to take them over the line. Sow's strike was his 22nd of the season, and Lille were able to hold on for the result they needed following a 73rd-minute equaliser from Mathieu Bodmer.

"It's the culmination of an exceptional season," said Garcia. "To be crowned champions with one game remaining after we just won the French Cup is something great. It has to sink in a little bit that we've gone down in French football history. I'm particularly happy to have achieved this victory with a squad of likeable, talented and hard-working players. They kept believing in their strengths and this was a win for attacking football."

Indeed, to clinch their first double since 1946 and the first in France since Olympique Lyonnais in 2007/08, Les Dogues remained faithful to an entertaining style. In a country renowned for defensive football in recent years, Garcia's men have scored 65 goals in 37 outings, with Sow feeding on superb service from Gervinho and Eden Hazard.

"This double is also reward for years of continuing, relentless hard work," added goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau, emphasising the fact that Lille have finished in the top half of the division every season since 2003/04. "The players appreciate each other and we like spending time together. Now we can party with the fans. It's fantastic. I think we don't even realise what we've done. This will be in our memories for life."

"We're proud of ourselves but also for the people of Lille," added Hazard, while Gervinho explained: "It's deserved. This title is reward for a great season and a squad which never flinched."

"Lille are great champions because that's always true of the team which gets the most points over a season," commented Marseille coach Didier Deschamps. "Congratulations to Lille."

The double may just prove the beginning, as the club have big plans for the future. A new 50,000-seater stadium is set to open in July 2012 and club president Michel Seydoux is determined for Lille "to stay among the top sides in France for a long time".

Last updated: 23/05/11 2.12CET

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