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Olympique de Marseille 3-1 Stade Rennais: OM Seal Ligue 1 Crown


After an 18 year wait, Olympique de Marseille are Ligue 1 champions, sealing their success with a victory over Stade Rennais at a packed Stade Velodrome.

An early Gabriel Heinze free kick should have settled the nerves, but alleged OM signing target Jimmy Briand levelled for the Bretons. The Provence side spent much of the second half knocking on the door, but it wasn’t until the closing stages when Mamadou Niang and Lucho Gonzalez struck in quick succession that the title was safe.

Marseille made the perfect start to the match. Les Phoceens looked to dictate the tempo of the encounter from the opening moments, and it took only four minutes for Didier Deschamps’ men to open the scoring. Awarded a free kick some 20-yards out, Gabriel Heinze took aim and flicked the ball over the defensive wall and past the helpless Nicolas Douchez.

Had the match ended immediately, Marseille would have been champions, but Rennes were clearly in no mood to be walked over, as Sylvain Marveaux endeavoured to prove moments later as he had a shot blocked in the OM box. Mathieu Valbuena replied for OM, but it was Briand who had the most glaring chance in the aftermath of the opening goal. A Marveaux shot was blocked, spinning kindly to the striker, though he couldn’t steer his shot on target from an exceptionally promising position just inside the box.

The story of the first period was not to be one of regular chances. Much of the play would develop and end in the midfield area, where an almighty battle was developing. Shots on goal tended to be of the hopeful variety at either end, and as a result, neither goalkeeper was especially overworked.

Marveaux corners were proving to be a source of joy for Rennes, though Asamoah Gyan was off target with a headed chance at the near post from one such delivery.

Gyan ultimately found his calling in an assisting role. It was he who collected the ball 30 yards from goal to feed a well weighted pass to Jerome Leroy down the left flank. The veteran midfielder showed that he has lost none of his guile with an inch-perfect delivery that was met by the diving Briand, whose header beat Steve Mandanda.

Before the interval, Valbuena nearly picked out Niang with a deft through pass, though Douchez was out quickly from his goal to stifle the danger.


Rennes were the quicker side out of the blocks after the restart, prompting home boss Deschamps to replace Heinze with the powerful and more direct Taye Taiwo. A positive break down the left from the Nigerian proved the catalyst to create a chance for Niang, though the forward bent a shot past the post after showing good skill on the edge of the box.

Taiwo also possesses a real shooting threat from distance, and he could barely have showcased that attribute any better when he had a superb low drive beaten away by Douchez for a corner midway through the second period. From the resultant flag kick, Valbuena delivered a teasing ball that should have been converted by Stephane Mbia, but the former Rennes player failed to hit the target with a header from just six yards.

Increasingly dominant, Marseille were forcing the Breton defence to heave, and with 15 minutes remaining, Rennes could hold out no longer. Fittingly it was Niang who grabbed the goal that provided OM with the basis to break away. Lucho combined with Laurent Bonnart down the left to setup a shooting chance for Valbuena, and though Douchez blocked his effort, Niang shot into the empty goal.

If one of the club’s old favourites grabbed the decisive goal, it was one of their new stars who registered the strike that sealed the title only two minutes later. Lucho started the move that ended with him pouncing on a blocked Niang shot to send a splendid effort by Douchez and into the net.

For the remaining minutes, Stade Velodrome enjoyed a party atmosphere as it became increasingly clear that OM would not let this chance slip. With two games of the campaign remaining, Marseille and the surrounding area will enjoy a party atmosphere after this famous and historic success.

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