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PSG wins French league after second-place Lille fails to win

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title without kicking a ball as second-place Lille could only draw 0-0 at Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille had to win to have any chance of catching PSG, but PSG is now 16 points ahead of its only rival with five matches left after this weekend.

After failing to clinch the title in the past three matches, drawing one and losing two, PSG can celebrate the eighth title in its history ahead of its home game against Monaco later Sunday.

It is PSG’s sixth title in the last seven seasons, with only Monaco in 2017 breaking PSG’s dominance.

Although the title was long expected from a side scoring 92 goals in 32 games so far, it took longer than it should have.

PSG could have won it three games ago, but drew 2-2 at home to Strasbourg when a win would have clinched it.

Then PSG needed a draw at Lille last Sunday, only to lose 5-1 in the club’s heaviest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge of the club in June 2011.

A win away to Nantes would have sufficed, too, on Wednesday night only for PSG to lose 3-2 .

The 10 goals conceded in those three games made for PSG’s worst defensive record during a three-game spell since 1985.

Also Sunday, striker Kalifa Coulibaly scored twice as 13th-place Nantes beat 17th-place Amiens 3-2.

Later, Saint-Etienne needed a draw at Reims to move above Marseille and into fourth place.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Monaco slows down Lille’s Champions League bid with 1-0 win

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PARIS (AP) Monaco boosted its chances of staying up and slowed down Lille’s bid for an automatic Champions League place with a 1-0 away win on Friday.

Brazilian striker Carlos Vinicius pounced in the last minute to move Monaco up to 16th place in the French league and keep Lille under pressure in the fight for second.

[ MORE: Ligue 1 score, schedule

Third-place Lyon can close the gap to four points with a home win against seventh-place Montpellier on Sunday, after which both sides have nine games left.

In Friday’s other game, eighth-place Nice conceded a last-gasp equalizer in a 1-1 home draw with 14th-place Toulouse.

As so often this season, Nice played without a recognized center forward and midfielder Wylan Cyprien opened the scoring midway through the first half with a free kick from 30 meters (33 yards) out. Striker Firmin Mubele equalized in the 89th minute for Toulouse, which moved further away from the danger zone.

Meanwhile, runaway league leader Paris Saint-Germain remains 17 points clear of Lille despite playing two games less, and is even closer to another title after Lille’s stumble.

PSG hosts bitter rival Marseille on Sunday, with only the title and the French Cup to focus on following its surprise elimination from the Champions League.

Marseille has found form since the arrival of striker Mario Balotelli from Nice. He has netted five times in seven games to help the club into fourth place.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Transfer gossip: $91m for Arsenal target; Chelsea man in Pulisic swap?

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English youngsters? After signing Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund wants all of them.

Well, not quite, but Goal is reporting that BVB asked for Callum Hudson-Odoi while discussing the potential transfer of Christian Pulisic to Chelsea.

[ MORE: Pogba thankful for Mourinho ]

The report says that Chelsea wasn’t moved by the idea and is hoping to sign Hudson-Odoi to a new deal, but the idea of losing him for nothing could become scarier as January moves nearer.

Bayern Munich is also interested in the player, who turned 18 in November and has a goal and an assist in the Europa League amongst nine senior appearances for Chelsea.

Lille winger Nicolas Pepe is going to cost at least $91 million, according to director Luis Campos, a bit more than the $56 million Arsenal was reportedly ready to spend on the 23-year-old.

The right winger has 12 goals and seven assists in 18 Ligue 1 matches this season, and has scored against Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon, and Marseille. He also has three goals in 10 caps for the Ivory Coast.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is reportedly reaching back to his Premier League days in a bid to improve his strike force.

The Hoops may chase either Jermain Defoe or Andy Carroll in a move which would sure to take the fight for an eighth-straight Scottish championship.

Celtic has a one-point lead on Rangers and a three-point lead on Aberdeen, having played one less game. The club is also the highest-scoring team in the league, but with all due respect: either, when healthy, would light up the scoreboard in Scotland.

French league will investigate fan violence in Lille

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PARIS (AP) The French football league says it will open disciplinary proceedings following the violent incidents that marred a league match between Lille and Montpellier.

Fans of struggling French club Lille charged onto the pitch to confront and threaten the players who drew with Montpellier 1-1 on Saturday.

[ MORE: Mark Noble on West Ham fan violence ]

The league condemned the violence in a statement on Sunday and said its disciplinary commission will investigate the case during a meeting on Thursday.

At the final whistle, fans spilled onto the field at Stade Pierre-Mauory. Striker Nicolas Pepe was kicked in the leg by one fan and there were more flashpoints between fans and players as stewards struggled to control the situation. Defender Adama Soumaoro was also reportedly struck.

[ MORE: Craziest MLS game yet ]

A line of stewards formed on the side of the pitch to hold back about 200 fans, who were chanting insults at the players and at president Gerard Lopez, just days after Lopez met with fan groups on Monday.

When Lopez became president, he confidently spoke about his ambition to qualify for the Champions League within a few seasons. But Lille, which won the French league and cup double in 2011, is next-to-last with only nine games left.

Lille could be relegated from Ligue 1 due to financial concerns

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Saturday’s brutal home defeat to Paris Saint-Germain was the least of Lille’s problems, as the club faces relegation.

Although Christophe Galtier’s side isn’t currently in Ligue 1’s bottom three, Lille could be in some serious hot water, as reports out of France suggest that the club could be relegated due to financial incompetency.

[ MORE: Alexis Sanchez scores first Man United goal in victory ]

L’Equipe is reporting that the club’s serious debt could leave Lille in Ligue 2 next season if things don’t improve on the club’s financial front in the near future.

The French outlet suggests that the club was in desperate need of selling some of its players during the January transfer window to make room in its financial space, however, Lille did not proceed to do so.

Meanwhile, the team’s current standing in Ligue 1 hasn’t done Lille any favors in terms of where they’ll be playing in 2018/19.

Lille sits in 17th place at the moment on 25 points, just one point above the relegation zone.