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Football | France

Monaco, Lyon clinch UCL spots



Memphis Depay struck a wonderful hat-trick as Lyon fought back to beat Nice 3-2 at the Groupama Stadium on Saturday to qualify for the Champions League from Ligue 1 at the expense of Marseille.

Monaco saw off relegated Troyes 3-0 to wrap up second spot behind champions Paris Saint-Germain, as Bruno Genesio's Lyon finished one point clear of Marseille in third after a dramatic final day of the season.

It capped a miserable week for beaten Europa League finalists Marseille, who will have to make do with a return to Europe's second-tier competition despite beating Amiens 2-1.

Nice missed out on the Europa League with Saturday's defeat, and coach Lucien Favre announced he was leaving the club after the game.

Marseille's defeat by Atletico Madrid on Wednesday in Lyon had ensured that the third-placed finishers in Ligue 1 would join the top two in the group stage of Europe's premier competition, rather than face the qualifying rounds.

"The group this year has done very well, it is a fair reward to finish third," Lyon captain Nabil Fekir told French television, before refusing to commit his future to the club.

"I don't know, frankly. I gave everything at Lyon, we'll see for the future. It hasn't been perfect this season, but it's a good finish."

Lyon were the first of the three sides in contention to slip up, as Alassane Plea raced clean through on goal and fired through the legs of home goalkeeper Anthony Lopes to put Nice ahead.

OL desperately needed a quick leveller after halftime and Depay provided just that.

Fekir did excellently to twist into space and square for Depay to tap home.

Depay has arguably been the best player in France during the latter stages of the season, and the Dutchman produced the moment of magic needed to send Lyon into the Champions League.

The former Manchester United flop showed magnificent creativity and execution to roll a free-kick under the wall and into the bottom corner to score his 18th goal of the campaign and his ninth in as many games.

Depay completed a sublime treble late on by dinking the ball over away goalkeeper Walter Benitez, and although Plea fired home from long range in the 89th minute, Lyon held on as Nice missed on a Europa League spot.

MARSEILLE VICTORY IN VAIN

Marseille struck first in the race for the Champions League against Amiens at the Stade Velodrome, as teenager Boubacar Kamara's clever pass picked out Morgan Sanson who slammed a fierce shot into the roof of the net to give Rudi Garcia's men an 11th-minute lead against Troyes.

Just seconds after Lyon fell behind at the Groupama Stadium, things got even better for Garcia's team as Kostas Mitroglou reacted quickest after Lucas Ocampos' header was saved to stab in the ninth goal of his first Ligue 1 season.

But Amiens hit back to give Lyon a boost, as Moussa Konate took advantage of some terrible home defending to halve the deficit before halftime.

Visiting midfielder Thomas Monconduit was rightly sent off for a horrendous challenge as he slammed his studs into the planted leg of Ocampos, who was lucky not to escape serious injury, early in the second half.

Marseille saw out the win, but the three points provided little joy as results elsewhere meant they wasted two chances to return to Europe's top table in just four days.

"Everyone started screaming in the stands and we thought it was 3-3 in Lyon," said Marseille star forward Florian Thauvin.

"We've had a good season, but haven't been rewarded."

Monaco knew that they would be assured of a Champions League place if they avoided defeat and a double from Rony Lopes and Jordi Mboula's late strike saw them relegate Troyes with a comfortable win.

That result sent Troyes down to the second tier with already-relegated Metz, as Toulouse secured a playoff with a 2-1 victory over Guingamp.

Elsewhere, Caen held champions Paris Saint-Germain to a goalless draw to secure safety, while Bordeaux thrashed Metz 4-0 to join Marseille and Rennes in the Europa League.



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