Olympique Lyonnais have all but been crowned French champions with one game to go despite losing 1-0 at Paris Saint-Germain FC.
Goal difference decisive
AS Monaco FC's 4-1 defeat at home by Stade Rennais FC ended their championship hopes, and although second-placed PSG are now within three points of the leaders, Lyon's goal difference is superior to the tune of 14. Only a freak set of results next week can deny Lyon their third straight title - having never won the championship before 2001/02.
PSG's midweek 3-0 defeat by FC Girondins de Bordeaux had virtually ended their championship hopes, but today they scored the only goal in the sixth minute through Pauleta. Lyon, though, knew anything but a Monaco win would allow them to celebrate.
Things began to go against the UEFA Champions League finalists when Alexander Frei shot Rennes into a ninth-minute lead. Fernando Morientes swiftly equalised, but he was taken off on a stretcher just before half-time with an ankle injury, a severe worry with the Champions League final against FC Porto only eleven days away. Olivier Monterubbio restored the visitors' lead with a 56th-minute penalty, and Kim Källström struck twice late on. Monaco, like PSG, are at least assured a 2004/05 Champions League campaign.
Fourth-placed AJ Auxerre gained a UEFA Cup berth with a 2-0 win against FC Nantes Atlantique. With League Cup winners FC Sochaux Montbéliard in fifth already qualified, Nantes were the only side that could deny Auxerre. They needed victory today, but the result went the other way with goals from Djibril Cissé on two and 12 minutes taking his league-leading tally to 26.
At the other end of the table, Montpellier Hérault SC are the first team relegated after losing 2-1 at home to the now safe RC Strasbourg. The other two places will be decided next week, with AC Ajaccio and Le Mans UC 72 in most danger. Le Mans' 3-0 loss at Sochaux leaves them two points behind third-bottom Ajaccio, beaten 2-0 at RC Lens.
Toulouse FC escaped the bottom three by a point with a 2-1 win at UEFA Cup finalists Olympique de Marseille. EA Guingamp are a further point ahead thanks after drawing
1-1 with OGC Nice, as are SC Bastia who lost 2-0 to Lille OSC. FC Metz beat Bordeaux 3-1 to banish any demotion fears.
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