Montpellier Secures First French Title; Napoli Wins Italian Cup
Montpellier claimed its first French league soccer title after winning 2-1 at Auxerre in a game that was twice delayed by protests from the home fans. Napoli won the Coppa Italia to deny Juventus an unbeaten season.
John Utaka got both Montpellier’s goals yesterday in the final round of matches after Olivier Kapo scored for already- relegated Auxerre, which will be joined in Ligue 2 next season by Dijon and Caen.
Montpellier, which returned to France’s elite Ligue 1 in 2009 and was 14th last season, finished with 82 points, three clear of Paris Saint-Germain. The club’s last major trophies were the French Cup in 1990 and the Coupe d’Ete, a precursor to the League Cup, two years later.
“It was a huge fight right until the end,” Montpellier coach Rene Girard said in a televised interview. “Looking at the number of points, you have to say that the three teams at the top have had extraordinary seasons.”
Utaka scored the winning goal with 14 minutes remaining last night after earlier tying Kapo’s 20th-minute opener. Auxerre fans threw tennis balls onto the pitch in protest in the second-half, holding up play for about 10 minutes, according to the Ligue 1 website. Further disturbances meant the final 20 minutes were played after the other games had already finished.
PSG won 2-1 at Lorient. The club, without a French league title since 1994, was bought a year ago by Qatar Sports Investments, an investment arm of the Qatari government, which said it would build PSG into one of Europe’s strongest teams.
Hazard’s Hat Trick
Eden Hazard, who was linked with a 30 million-pound ($47.4 million) move to Chelsea in the Sunday Mirror, scored three goals as last season’s champion Lille beat Nancy 4-1 to finish another five points back in third spot.
Eight clubs went into the final round of matches with a chance of dropping out of France’s top league, with only Auxerre already demoted.
Dijon finished 19th in the 20-team standings after a 5-0 defeat at Rennes, while Caen filled the last relegation spot in 18th following its 3-1 defeat at Valenciennes.
Napoli upset Serie A champion Juventus 2-0 in the Coppa Italia final at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico to win the competition for a first time since 1987 and fourth time overall. Juventus, which hadn’t lost any of its 38 league games or four previous cup matches this season, remains tied with Roma on a record nine Italian Cup wins.
Edinson Cavani opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute and Marek Hamsik sealed the victory with seven minutes remaining on a counterattack.
“Winning the Coppa Italia by defeating a team like Juve makes it even more special,” said Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri. “They have been unbeatable for the whole season but we came here and defeated them 2-0. It’s a great achievement.”
In Scotland, Hearts routed Hibernian 5-1 two days ago in the first all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final since 1896.
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