Olympique de Marseille 4-0 RC Strasbourg Alsace
Marseille began the day in third place, trailing Monaco in second by a difference of four goals. They needed just a point to be certain of a podium place but they needed to better the principality side’s result in order to take second and guarantee a place in next season’s Champions League group stage.
They fulfilled their part of the bargain as they blew Strasbourg away at a raucous Vélodrome, with Amine Harit hitting the post early on and Mattéo Guendouzi forcing a good save from Matz Sels before Gerson gave them the lead just after the half-hour mark. Valentin Rongier cut the ball back for the Brazilian who then blasted past Sels at his near post.
Strasbourg offered little going forward but they needed a positive result to clinch a top-five place and European qualification of their own. Yet they were hanging on as Sels saved well from Guendouzi and Harit in the second half, and the visitors collapsed in the latter stages.
Cengiz Ünder made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute, finishing first-time after Arkadiusz Milik intelligently let the ball run into the path of the Turkish international. Milik was the provider as Gerson scored his second of the game to make it 3-0 with a minute of normal time remaining, and substitute Cédric Bakambu converted from close range to complete the scoring in injury time.
Moments after that goal went in, the home fans began to celebrate joyously as news emerged that results elsewhere were going their way.
THE PLAYER: Gerson
Derided at the start of the season for failing to live up to expectations after his big-money arrival from Flamengo, Gerson has turned into a key player for OM. Here, with Dimitri Payet again absent, the Brazilian midfielder popped up with two more important goals and he finishes the campaign with 11 goals in all competitions.
THE STAT: 13
Marseille are unbeaten in their last 13 Ligue 1 meetings with Strasbourg.
Monaco‘s goal difference advantage meant a victory away at RC Lens would have secured second place, but they missed out on a 10th successive win as they conceded at the death to draw 2-2 at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.
Przemysław Frankowski opened the scoring on the half-hour mark for Lens, who began the day with an outside chance of taking fifth and qualifying for the Europa Conference League. However, Benoît Badiashile converted from close range just four minutes later to bring Monaco level, and Wissam Ben Yedder then continued his fine season by heading in to make it 2-1 to the visitors in the second half.
Yet Ignatius Ganago’s goal in the sixth minute of added time denied Monaco the victory as they finish the season in third place and will enter the Champions League in the third qualifying round in early August.
Stade Rennais FC began the day with a mathematical chance of finishing third but they needed Monaco or Marseille to lose and to win at LOSC Lille. In the event they could only draw 2-2 against last season’s champions, who twice led through goals from Timothy Weah. Benjamin Bourigeaud netted in between for Rennes and they secured a draw in stoppage time thanks to a Serhou Guirassy goal.
Rennes therefore secured fourth place and a spot in the Europa League, and OGC Nice salvaged fifth and a Europa Conference League berth as they came from two goals down to win 3-2 at Stade de Reims. Hugo Ekitiké and Moussa Doumbia netted early on for Reims but Andy Delort pulled one back with a 75th-minute penalty and scored two more in the next seven minutes to complete a quick-fire hat-trick as Christophe Galtier’s team climbed above Strasbourg.
Elsewhere Olympique Lyonnais won 2-1 at Clermont Foot 63. Moussa Dembélé and Houssem Aouar scored their goals before Mohamed Bayo pulled one back for the hosts.
>> ROUND 38: Fixtures/results