Paris Saint-Germain clinches third straight Ligue 1 title after win
PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain clinched a third successive Ligue 1 with a 2-1 win at Montpellier on Saturday, securing the first trophy of a possible domestic treble.
PSG needed only a draw to secure the championship with a match to spare, but goals from Blaise Matuidi and Ezequiel Lavezzi put the outcome almost beyond doubt within 25 minutes.
PSG moved eight points above second-place Lyon, which was held to 1-1 at home by Bordeaux.
"This title has a particular taste," midfielder Anthony Matuidi said. "It's the third one, it was more difficult than the others. We were often the chasers this year, we did what we needed to to win it.
"We fully deserve this title. We are winners and we have something historic to go hunt for. First we have to savor tonight. PSG showed this season that it is a great team."
PSG added the league to the French League Cup victory in April, and has the French Cup final on May 30.
Focus on the last day of the season will turn to the fight for the final Champions League spot.
Monaco remained two points ahead of Marseille after beating already-relegated Metz 2-0. Marseille thrashed Lille 4-0.
At the other end of the table, Evian was officially relegated after losing 2-1 at home to Saint-Etienne. Bottom club Lens lost by the same scoreline at Nice.
On a full day of fixtures, there were also: Bastia 1, Caen 1; Nantes 1, Lorient 1; and Reims 1, Rennes 1.
PSG's route to a third straight title had its complications, notably after a slow start punctuated by five draws in the first eight league games, and with embarrassing defeats away to Guingamp and Bastia either side of the winter break.
The defensive lapses caught up with PSG again on March 15, when PSG lost 3-2 away to Bordeaux. That game threatened to derail PSG's title charge, because Zlatan Ibrahimovic was caught on camera insulting match officials in an expletive-laced rant that even reached government level. Politicians publicly rebuked the Sweden forward for his outburst.
The absence of Ibrahimovic, who was banned for three matches, actually brought the players closer, with Edinson Cavani stepping out of Ibrahimovic's giant shadow to score in the three games he missed. Following the Bordeaux defeat, PSG won eight straight league matches to take the wind out of Lyon's sails.
Lyon's gutsy title challenge — led by the slick attacking duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fekir — faded as the relative lack of depth and experience in a squad made up mainly of homegrown players was finally exposed.
Led by the majestic passing of playmaker Javier Pastore, and with Cavani and Ibrahimovic in scintillating scoring form, PSG plundered 34 goals in its previous seven matches to peak when it mattered.
Montpellier had lost only one of its last 10 home games against PSG, but struggled to get into the match as the visitors dominated.
PSG broke the deadlock in the 17th minute as Anthony Matuidi sprang the offside trap to run onto Adrien Rabiot's through-ball and curl a low effort into the far right corner.
And PSG fans knew they could get the champagne ready eight minutes later. Serge Aurier raced down the right flank before crossing in towards Cavani at the near post. He missed his attempt but Lavezzi was on hand to side-foot it into the bottom right corner.
Mounier got Montpellier back into the match five minutes before halftime, with a fantastic cross-shot from out by the right byline which flew in over PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc noted he was more satisfied winning the league with one round left, than last year when they did it with three to go, and he was quite happy to stand in the background.
"I love watching the scenes of happiness, whether on the pitch or in the dressing rooms," Blanc said.
"I have to have distance. It's the players who are on the pitch, who win the titles. Us, we have a small role. The manager has to be always in the background. It's not up to him to be at the front of the stage. I still have as much satisfaction doing this job. I have to thank my staff, because without his staff, a manager is nothing at all."