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PSG win record 11th French title

Paris Saint-Germain clinched a French record 11th league title on Saturday as Lionel Messi scored in a 1-1 draw away at Strasbourg.

Messi’s opener was cancelled out by a Kevin Gameiro equaliser, but the result gave PSG an unassailable four-point lead over second-placed Lens with one match of the season remaining.

PSG moved ahead of the previous record of 10 titles set by Saint-Etienne in 1981 and which they equalled a year ago under former coach Mauricio Pochettino.

It is PSG’s ninth title in the last 11 seasons, a period in which they have dominated French football under Qatari ownership, reports AFP.

“This afternoon I watched the last day of the season in the Bundesliga and you can see that it is very difficult to win the league, any league,” PSG coach Christophe Galtier told broadcaster Canal Plus.

“The reigning champions in all European leagues have often had problems this season, so we appreciate what this means.

“It is a title and we must not believe it is normal to win, even if we are Paris Saint-Germain.”

PSG started the penultimate weekend of the season six points clear of nearest rivals Lens with just six points to play for, and with a far better goal difference.

A Lens slip-up would have seen the capital side crowned champions with a game to spare even in defeat, but in the end they needed the draw as their challengers eased to a 3-0 win over already-relegated Ajaccio.

Kylian Mbappe set up Messi to put PSG ahead just before the hour with his 16th Ligue 1 goal this season.

Ex-Paris striker Gameiro equalised with 11 minutes left, bundling in the rebound after Gianluigi Donnarumma had saved from Morgan Sanson.

The draw ultimately suited both teams as it enabled Strasbourg to guarantee their top-flight survival.

PSG started the season superbly and did not lose a game in any competition before the World Cup.

However, they lost six of their first 17 league games in 2023 and were eliminated from the Champions League in the last 16 by Bayern Munich and in the French Cup at the same stage.

Those results increased speculation that Galtier — who also won the title with Lille two years ago — will be replaced in the close season.

Messi is expected to depart when his contract expires at the end of the campaign, meaning next weekend’s match at home to Clermont is likely to be his last in a PSG shirt.

– Lens clinch Champions League ticket –

Lens secured second place and a ticket for next season’s Champions League group stage with their win against Ajaccio, which was sealed by first-half goals from Deiver Machado, Adrien Thomasson and Lois Openda.

Belgian striker Openda netted a penalty for his 20th goal in Ligue 1 this season.

Marseille, who lost 2-1 at home to Brest, must therefore settle for third place and will enter the Champions League in the third qualifying round.

Beneath them, Lille are in pole position to qualify for the Europa League after coming from behind to beat Nantes 2-1 and move up to fourth position.

Quentin Merlin put relegation-threatened Nantes in front in the far north, but two second-half penalties from Canada’s Jonathan David gave Lille the victory.

Lille are now a point above both Rennes and Monaco, who met on Saturday, with the Brittany side winning 2-0 thanks to second-half goals by Lovro Majer and Amine Gouiri.

Rennes are fifth, above Monaco on goal difference. Fifth place goes into next season’s Europa Conference League while sixth will not qualify for Europe at all.

Lyon’s European hopes were effectively ended despite a 3-0 win over Reims in which Alexandre Lacazette scored his 27th Ligue 1 goal this season, leaving him just one behind Mbappe, the division’s top marksman.

Nantes will go into the final weekend having to win to stand a chance of avoiding relegation as they sit 17th, two points behind Auxerre, who drew 1-1 at Toulouse.

Angers, Ajaccio and Troyes have already been relegated. Four teams go down and only two come up from Ligue 2 as the top flight is reduced from 20 clubs to 18 for next season.

There were also wins on Saturday for Angers, Nice and Clermont.