Ligue 1

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Monaco celebrates title with 12th straight win; PSG held 1-1

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PARIS (AP) Monaco celebrated its French league title by beating Rennes 3-2 for a 12th straight win on Saturday, finishing the season eight points clear of deposed champion Paris Saint-Germain.

[ MORE: Real Madrid is one point away from claiming La Liga title ]

Monaco sealed the title midweek and its players spray-dyed their hair in the club’s colors to celebrate.

[ MORE: Roma closes Serie A gap to one point ]

Monaco scored in its last 32 league games to set a single-season record. It scored 107 league goals – five more than PSG’s total last season – and 158 overall.

PSG conceded an injury-time equalizer in a 1-1 home draw with Caen. The result was priceless for the visitors, ensuring survival in a tense relegation fight. Bastia and Nancy were relegated and 18th-placed Lorient faces a playoff against the third-placed team from division two.

Lorient was moments away from staying up until Ronny Rodelin swept in a 91st-minute equalizer for Caen, having earlier missed a penalty. Caen also had a goal controversially disallowed, and when Rodelin did finally score, his goal set off scenes of wild delight.

Marseille striker Bafetimbi Gomis scored his 20th league goal to ensure fifth place for Marseille and a spot in the Europa League, while relegating Bastia.

RENNES 2, MONACO 3

Brazilian players Fabinho, Jemerson, and Jorge scored for Monaco, which always led, and Adama Diakhaby pulled two back for the home side.

PSG 1, CAEN 1

Midfielder Adrien Rabiot put PSG ahead early but striker Edinson Cavani failed to improve on his league-leading 35 goals.

With three minutes to go, Caen midfielder Julien Feret thought he scored but the goal was ruled out because one of his teammate’s was adjudged to be offside. But Caen coach Patrice Garande was dancing with delight when Rodelin atoned for a penalty miss to keep Caen in the top flight.

LYON 3, NICE 3

Top scorer Alexandre Lacazette bid the perfect farewell to Lyon, scoring twice to break his own record and reach 100 league goals for the club.

Lacazette came through the youth ranks and made his debut eight years ago. He is leaving, possibly to Atletico Madrid.

Lyon took the lead in the 10th minute when Nice defender Maxime Le Marchand inadvertently turned in forward Memphis Depay‘s shot.

Greek striker Anastasios Donis equalized five minutes later after being set up by midfielder Vincent Koziello.

Third-placed Nice salvaged a point with the last kick when midfielder Jean-Michael Seri coolly scored a penalty.

OTHER MATCHES

Lorient gave itself a chance of staying up after drawing with Bordeaux 1-1, and meets third-placed Troyes from the second division in a two-way playoff. A defeat would have relegated Lorient and put Nancy into the playoff on goal difference.

Dijon also ensured its safety with a 0-0 draw at Toulouse, and finished in 16th place, ahead of 17th-placed Caen on goal difference.

Nancy’s 3-1 home win against Saint-Etienne proved to be in vain.

Striker Nicolas De Preville scored a hat trick as Lille beat Nantes 3-0; Angers won against visiting Montpellier 2-0, and Guingamp beat Metz 1-0.

Lacazette confirms he’ll leave Lyon, hopes to join Atletico Madrid

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Alexandre Lacazette has been “leaving” Lyon for what feels like about five years now, having been constantly linked to some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and other leagues around Europe since bursting onto the scene in 2013.

[ MORE: Koeman not confident Barkley will stay at Everton ]

This time, though, it’s really actually definitely happening without any level of uncertainty — so says Lacazette himself. Speaking to French newspaper L’Equipe this week, the 25-year-old said it’s “the right time” to “discover something else, and to play at a different level.” He went on to reveal he’s already spoken to Atletico Madrid, and Lacazette sounds as if he’s selling Atleti as much on his as they are themselves to him:

“I think that’s the right time. I want to discover something else, and to play at a different level.”

“I know very well that on a European scale I am not yet well recognized. I want to see if I can answer the questions that people are asking, and to make further progress.”

“Atletico are good, it is a club that is in the last rounds of the Champions League for several years.

“It is a great team, in a new stadium, and it is also a club that helps their players progress. And there is Antoine Griezmann. If Atletico is the club I chose, I have not told you, maybe I’ll give you another answer in a few months.”

[ MORE: Latest transfer rumor roundup ]

While no one will begrudge Lacazette this — who wouldn’t want to play with Griezmann? — the reality of a move to Atleti this summer might just be that he’s Griezmann’s replacement after his countryman makes a mega-bucks move to one of Europe’s true giants.

Ligue 1: Monaco’s title win the result of Jardim’s transformation

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PARIS (AP) Leonardo Jardim turned an inexperienced Monaco squad into one of Europe’s most entertaining teams, doing so while competing on four fronts.

The soft-spoken Portuguese coach with the unflinching stare was under pressure to keep his job. Now he’s one of the most sought-after coaches in Europe after wresting the French league trophy from Paris Saint-Germain and reaching the semifinals of the Champions League with a hedonistic brand of attacking football that produced 155 goals in all competitions.

“Winning the title with a team that is not the favorite is a great trophy,” Jardim said after securing the title late Wednesday. “Monaco as champion is worth four times PSG as champion. When PSG wins, it’s normal, but Monaco …”

PSG had won the previous four titles, clinching last season’s by 31 points.

Such is the huge popularity of this Monaco side that even opposing fans have applauded the team.

Monaco’s feel-good factor was reflected in the way Jardim escaped reproach when making the kind of decision only the most single-minded managers dare to make. It was up there with Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho for its unapologetic boldness.

At the end of April, with Monaco preparing to face mighty Juventus in the Champions League semifinals, Monaco travelled to play PSG in the French Cup semifinals. Victory would put Monaco within touching distance of a league and cup double, but Jardim calculated differently.

He wanted to rest his players before facing Toulouse and Juventus in quick succession, so fielded mainly reserves and lost 5-0.

Even though Jardim arguably devalued France’s national cup on its 100th anniversary, there was scant criticism because neutral fans wanted Monaco to do well in Europe. Even the league president understood.

The 42-year-old Jardim met his match only once this season; tactically outmaneuvered by Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

In the knockout rounds against Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund, there was no talk about it being 50-50 or other such soccer cliches. Instead, he specifically explained how Monaco was going to get through.

It is this firm confidence that defines an articulate man whose interests stretch far beyond football.

Last month, he met with French philosopher Edgar Morin, whose books have been translated into 28 languages. Jardim stumbled upon one when he was a physical education student in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira.

“My approach is very much influenced by Edgar Morin, who talks about seeing things through different perspectives that can interlock,” Jardim told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper. “I made the link between football and the complexity it entails.”

That’s not exactly your average coaching talk.

But Jardim has been different from the time he arrived from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2014, and caught the eye in his first match at home to Lorient.

He left out star striker Radamel Falcao, played midfielder Joao Moutinho out of position, and handed an unexpected start to young midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko – then hauled him off after 32 minutes.

The ruthless kind of behavior synonymous with his countryman Mourinho, perhaps. But Jardim’s decisions are rooted in an obsession with balance.

“A manager is permanently dealing with contradictions between the individual and the collective,” he said. “Sometimes, an approach that is too collective stops the quality of the individual from emerging.”

A year into his job, Jardim had to completely rebuild.

In the summer of 2015, because of former Financial Fair Play rules designed to control club finances, Monaco sold forward Anthony Martial to Manchester United. Midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, center half Aymen Abdenour and left back Layvin Kurzawa were all sold. Falcao was loaned out again, this time to Chelsea. The previous summer, forward James Rodriguez went to Real Madrid.

Still, in difficult circumstances, Jardim redesigned Monaco from a cautious team into a flair side packed with young talent and built around the verve of attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva.

He gambled correctly on Falcao this season, too, giving him another chance after two miserable years in England.

His other masterstroke was promoting teen forward Kylian Mbappe from the reserves in October.

Falcao scored 30 goals and the 18-year-old Mbappe netted 26, with one game remaining at Rennes on Saturday.

Jardim was named coach of the year with six of his players in the team of the season.

The ultimate compliment.

Monaco wins 1st French league title in 17 years

AP Photo/Claude Paris
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PARIS (AP) Monaco sealed its first French title since 2000 and an eighth overall on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Saint-Etienne.

With one match left to play this weekend, Monaco has an unassailable six-point lead over second-place Paris Saint-Germain, the defending champions.

[ MORE: Huddersfield Town to Wembley ]

Despite losing to Juventus in the Champions League semifinals, Monaco has thrilled Europe with its attacking football, scoring 155 goals in all competitions and reaching 104 in the league, two more than PSG’s league tally last year.

Led by the strike duo of Radamel Falcao and rising star Kylian Mbappe, Monaco averaged nearly three goals per game this season to end PSG’s four-year dominance.

Unbeaten in the league in 2017, Monaco has also scored in its last 31 league games, a new record during a single season.

Monaco coach Jardim staying cautious amid title euphoria

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MONACO (AP) Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim has a message for anyone else thinking of sending him a celebratory text about the French title: Don’t bother.

Monaco closed in on the title after beating Lille 4-0 on Sunday, putting it three points ahead of Paris Saint-Germain with a goal difference that is plus-17 better and a game in hand. Monaco has to lose its next two games by large margins for PSG to stand even a remote chance.

“Those who sent me a message of congratulations yesterday are still waiting for me to answer,” Jardim said Monday. “Our objective is to prepare the team properly and to steer clear of euphoria.”

[ MORE: Conte on Chelsea’s record-tying win ]

A point on Wednesday at home against Saint-Etienne, however, would guarantee the title and should have Jardim smiling at last.

Although a dramatic collapse in the next two matches is highly unlikely, Jardim remains ultra-cautious, pointing to the way Barcelona made history by routing PSG 6-1 to reverse a 4-0 first-leg deficit in the last 16 of the Champions League.

“Experience tells you to keep a cool head. Anything’s possible in soccer. Look at Barcelona’s comeback,” Jardim said. “We’ve worked 11 months for this title, now’s not the time to start easing up.”

Free-scoring Monaco has scored 102 league goals – equaling PSG’s tally from last season – and 153 in all competitions.