Montpellier ride out chaos and riot police to win Ligue 1 title

 

Montpellier players kept their cool to clinch a maiden Ligue 1 title with a 2-1 win at AJ Auxerre although the match descended into chaos as police were called in after local fans pelted the pitch with flares, tomatoes and toilet paper to interrupt the game three times on Sunday.

Nigeria's John Utaka scored the two goals after relegated Auxerre had opened the scoring through Olivier Kapo.

Montpellier finished the season on 82 points, leading second-placed Paris St Germain, who won 2-1 at Lorient, by three points.

Eden Hazard scored three in his farewell game as third-placed Lille, who will be in the Champions League playoffs next season, beat Nancy 4-1.

Olympique Lyon, who had nothing to gain or lose, finished fourth with a 4-3 defeat by visitors Nice.

Girondins Bordeaux, fifth, secured a Europa League spot with a 3-2 victory at St Etienne.

Dijon and Caen were relegated to Ligue 2 with AJ Auxerre.

"It's incredible, I can hardly find the words," Montpellier keeper Geoffrey Jourdren told Canal + as fans descended on to the pitch to celebrate the title.

"Our only goal was to stay in the top flight and in the end we are champions. I'm going to enjoy it because it will probably be the only time it happens to me."

The joyous celebrations at the end were in stark contrast to the crowd trouble that repeatedly marred the second half of the contest.

Emotions spilled over when Auxerre fans threw tennis balls, toilet paper and tomatoes onto the pitch to cause the first two disruptions.

Referee Said Ennjimi delayed the start of the second half by five minutes and then ushered the players back inside the tunnel after suspending the game again just five minutes after the interval.

However, riot police were called in when the match was halted for the third time in the 70th minute after raging Auxerre supporters threw flares onto the pitch.

With the jeering, whistling and booing fans showing no signs of calming down, the police moved in to evacuate sections of the stands, allowing Montpellier to complete their title charge without any further stoppages.

Montpellier, in only their third top-flight season after a five-year spell in Ligue 2, had climbed up the Ligue 1 ladder thanks to their free-flowing, inspired football and made sure they were rewarded for their hard work and belief on Sunday.

At the Abbe Deschamps stadium, a Montpellier fan's banner read "historical season". It was meant to be one.

The players did not let their fans down even though they fell behind when Kapo beat Mapou Yanga Mbiwa to head home from a Roy Contout corner as Auxerre took the lead after 20 minutes.

The visitors hit back 12 minutes later when Utaka latched on to a Souleymane Camara cross from the right to make it 1-1.

Montpellier showed their composure amid the chaotic scenes erupting around them as Utaka doubled the tally in the 76th minute with a low shot from just inside the box, triggering wild but peaceful celebrations in their corner.

It ended PSG's hopes of winning their first title since 1994 after the Qatar-backed side spent over 80 million euros ($101.78 million) on transfers last summer.

"We have to congratulate Montpellier. We did a good job tonight, we just lacked a little something," said PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti, who took over from Antoine Kombouare last December when the club was leading the table.

"We need to have faith in the future."

PSG were 1-0 down after 28 minutes when some sloppy defending by Zoumana Camara allowed the unmarked Kevin Monnet-Paquet to head home from a Lucas Mareque cross.

That game was also interrupted shortly afterwards for five minutes after PSG fans threw flares on to the pitch.

The visitors levelled on 61 minutes thanks to a close-range goal from Javier Pastore.

Thiago Motta made it 2-1 for PSG when he headed home from a Nene corner 15 minutes from time. But it was all for nothing.

Reuters

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before