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By ESPN Staff
May 13, 2006

Ligue 1: Lille claim Champions League spot

PARIS, May 13 (Reuters) - Lille claimed a Champions League third qualifying round spot after a 2-2 draw at Stade Rennes in a nail-biting last round of matches in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

The northerners finished third in the standings with 62 points, two more than arch-rivals RC Lens, who beat Nantes 3-1.

Lens finished fourth and qualified for the UEFA Cup.

Olympique Marseille, who had still hoped to qualify for the Champions League, ended almost empty-handed.

The Provence side, who were reduced to 10 men after defender Abdoulaye Meite was sent off for a second bookable offence on 70 minutes, were held 1-1 at second-placed Girondins Bordeaux.

Franck Ribery, who hopes to be included in France's 23-man squad for the World Cup on Sunday, missed a penalty in the 27th minute.

Marseille finished fifth and will play in the Intertoto Cup.

Olympique Lyon celebrated their record fifth consecutive title, secured four weeks ago, with a 8-1 rout of Le Mans.

Fred scored a hat-trick in a man-of-the match performance. Cris, Sylvain Wiltord, Juninho, Sidney Govou and Tiago netted the other goals as Lyon ended the season with a record 84 points.

All eyes were on Rennes and Bordeaux when the matches kicked off, knowing that a Marseille win, combined with a Lille defeat, would put Marseille third.

BODMER EQUALISER

Switzerland striker Alexander Frei, back from a three-month injury layoff, netted twice in the first half to give Rennes a deserved 2-0 advantage.

Lille, however, stepped up a gear after the interval and goals by Nicolas Fauvergue and Mathieu Bodmer, respectively on 77 and 85 minutes, gave the northerners the draw they needed.

'We never gave up. It was a very, very tough game,' Lille coach Claude Puel said.

'We had to fight all the way. But I think we deserved what we got tonight.'

For nine minutes, Marseille were provisionally third after Toifilou Maoulida scored from close range at Bordeaux, where Marseille have not won since 1977.

Bodmer's goal in Brittany ended their hopes and Fernando's equaliser for Bordeaux two minutes from time sent Marseille down to fifth behind Lens on goal difference.

Lens came from behind to secure a UEFA Cup berth as goals by Jussie, Aruna Dindane and Adama Coulibaly cancelled Emerse Fae's early opener for Nantes.

They will be joined in the UEFA Cup by French Cup winners Paris St Germain and League Cup winners Nancy.

Racing Strasbourg, Metz and AC Ajaccio were relegated and will be replaced in the top flight by promoted Lorient, Sedan and Valenciennes.