Lyon consign Monaco to relegation

Paris: Monaco were relegated from the French top division for the first time in 35 years after losing 2-0 at home to Lyon on the final day of the Ligue 1 season.

Third-bottom going into the game at Stade Louis II, Monaco needed a positive result to stand any chance of avoiding the drop but fell to second-half goals by Pape Diakhate and Lisandro Lopez.

French champions in 2000 and Champions League finalists in 2004, Monaco -- who sacked coach Guy Lacombe in January and replaced him with Laurent Banide -- will play in the second tier next season for the first time since 1977.

"This is a big loss for French football," lamented Banide.

"We just weren`t good enough to stay in Lige 1 - you have to respect the laws of football."

He refused to speculate if he would stay in his post.

Victory ensured Lyon finished third, four points above Paris Saint-Germain, meaning they will enter next season`s Champions League in the play-off round.

With Monaco desperate for points and Lyon jaded after a long season of off-pitch turmoil, a cagey first half witnessed just one clear chance, with Jimmy Briand dragging a shot wide at the end of a Lyon counter-attack.

The hosts had to wait until the 53rd minute for their first real sight of goal, but Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris proved himself equal to Chris Malonga`s left-footed curler.

Lisandro gave Monaco a fright with a shot that grazed the left-hand post, before the goal the home fans dreaded arrived in the 67th minute.

A deflected Kim Kallstrom free-kick arrived at the feet of Maxime Gonalons, and when his shot was beaten away by Monaco goalkeeper Sebastien Chabbert, Diakhate tapped home from six yards.

The fight drained from the Monaco ranks thereafter and Lisandro confirmed their descent to Ligue 2 eight minutes from time when he chested down an Aly Cissokho cross before ramming home his 17th goal of the season.

PSG had hoped to pip Lyon to third place, but they had to content themselves with a Europa League place after an injury-time penalty by Mathieu Bodmer earned them a 1-1 draw at Saint-Etienne.

"There are regrets but I also want to draw attention to the very good season we`ve had, despite a small squad," said PSG coach Antoine Kombouare.

"It`s a very good season despite despite everything."

Sochaux, the season`s surprise package, signed off with a 3-1 win at rock-bottom Arles-Avignon that saw them pip Rennes to fifth place, although both teams had already made sure of a Europa League berth.

"We`re behind the four big guns," said Sochaux coach Francis Gillot.

"It was unthinkable at the start of the season. Never giving up is in the culture of the squad."

Rennes were beaten 3-2 at champions and French Cup winners Lille, for whom Moussa Sow netted a hat-trick to consolidate his position atop the top scorers standings.

Sow`s third triple of the campaign saw him finish the season with 25 goals -- three more than nearest rival Kevin Gameiro, who was also on target in Lorient`s 2-1 loss at home to Auxerre.

Monaco`s defeat rendered the results of the other relegation-threatened sides immaterial, but Nancy -- fourth-bottom at the beginning of the day -- blew away their fears of the drop by thrashing Lens 4-0.

Caen, like Nancy, began the day just a point above the bottom three and they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to deposed champions Marseille.

Goals from Yohan Mollo and M`Baye Niang put Caen 2-0 up at the break, but Didier Deschamps`s team hit back in the second half through a brace from France international Loic Remy.

Deschamps, Monaco`s coach when they lost to Porto in the 2004 Champions League final, said he was "sad" to see them relegated and also said he would have to "reflect" about his own future at Marseille.

Toulouse centre-forward Xavier Pentecote celebrated his first start since August with a brace in a 2-0 success at Brest, while a Gregory Pujol double -- his 16th and 17th goals of the campaign -- saw Valenciennes beat Nice 2-1.

In the day`s remaining game, Bordeaux beat Montpellier 2-0.

Bureau Report

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