By IAN HOLLIDAY
The last time Lille won the French top flight, the European Cup didn't exist yet. Now, after 57 years, the club will enter the UEFA Champions League as French champions for the first time in its history.
Lille entered the weekend needing only a point from its match at Paris St. Germain to secure its first Ligue 1 title since 1954, and a point was what it got, drawing 2-2 on goals from Ludovic Obraniak and Moussa Sow, who led Ligue 1 with 22 on the season.
In England, a last-minute goal from Roman Pavlyuchenko assured Birmingham City's relegation just minutes after Stephen Hunt had scored in Wolverhampton Wanderers match against Blackburn to pull Wolves ahead of City on goal differential. A draw might still have been enough to keep Birmingham in the Premier League if it weren't for Hugo Rodallega's 78th minute winner for Wigan at Stoke City.
Wolves and Wigan weren't the only clubs to pull off a great escape this weekend. In Spain, Real Zaragoza built a 2-0 lead and held on to defeat Levante 2-1 to survive for another season in La Liga. Going down in Zaragoza's place will be Deportivo la Coruna, which fell 2-0 at home to Valencia.
Here is a rundown of all the weekend scores from Europe's top leagues:
For about five minutes, it looked like Blackpool might shock the world and stave off relegation with a win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Tangerines went on the offensive from the start, matching United chance for chance before falling behind in the 21st minute on a goal from Ji-Sung Park. Charlie Adam drew the visitors level before halftime, though, and after 57 minutes, Gary Taylor-Fletcher gave Blackpool the lead. If the Tangerines had been able to hold on to the advantage, given the way the rest of the weekend's fixtures ended, they would have stayed up at Wolves' expense, but as it was, the champions got the better of them, pulling even in the 62nd minute through Anderson and going ahead for good on an own-goal from Ian Evatt in the 74th.
Aston Villa 1, Liverpool 0
Bolton 0, Manchester City 2
Everton 1, Chelsea 0
Fulham 2, Arsenal 2
Manchester United 4, Blackpool 2
Newcastle United 3, West Bromwich Albion 3
Stoke City 0, Wigan Athletic 1
Tottenham 2, Birmingham City 1
West Ham United 0, Sunderland 3
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Blackburn 3
Zaragoza's victory not only helped the club avoid relegation, it vaulted the side five places in La Liga from 18th to 13th, further illustrating the parity in the Spanish table below the top six spots reserved for European qualification. Deportivo's relegated points total was 43, just six points lower than Espanyol's eighth-placed total of 49. Above that level, there's a 9-point jump to Atletico Madrid, which finished seventh, missing out on Europa League play because of head-to-head results against Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla. The biggest gap in the Spanish table remains at the top, however, as Real Madrid and Barcelona were 21 and 25 points better than their nearest competition, respectively. Madrid underscored this dominance over the weekend, finishing the season with an 8-1 flourish over last-placed Almeria. Christiano Ronaldo bagged a brace to become the first player ever to score 40 goals in a La Liga season.
Malaga 1, Barcelona 3
Hercules 0, Sporting Gijon 0
Real Madrid 8, Almeria 1
Deportivo la Coruna 0, Valencia 2
Espanyol 2, Sevilla 3
Levante 1, Real Zaragoza 2
Mallorca 3, Atletico Madrid 4
Osasuna 1, Villarreal 0
Racing Santander 1, Athletic Bilbao 2
Real Sociedad 1, Getafe 1
With the Serie A relegation field set last week, the final round of matches in Italy was a bit more subdued than it was in England and Spain. That said, there was still a bit of late-season drama to sort out, with Lazio and Udinese entering the weekend two points apart for fourth place Italy's final Champions League spot. Udinese needed only a draw to secure the position, and that's what the club got, hosting AC Milan for a scoreless affair. Both sides had good chances, though, as Udinese twice hit the woodwork and had an Antonio Di Natale penalty saved. Had one of Milan's chances gone in, Lazio would have finished fourth, having defeated Lecce 4-2.
Bologna 0, Bari 4
Brescia 2, Fiorentina 2
Cagliari 1, Parma 1
Genoa 3, Cesena 2
Inter Milan 3, Catania 1
Palermo 1, Chievo 3
AS Roma 3, Sampdoria 1
Juventus 2, Napoli 2
Lecce 2, Lazio 4
Udinese 0, AC Milan 0
Ligue 1 still has one round left to play, so there are a number of final positions still to be determined. Paris St. Germain could claim France's final Champions League spot with a win at St. Etienne and a loss by Lyon at AS Monaco, which will be fighting for its Ligue 1 life. Despite winning on Saturday, Monaco remains in 18th place, the league's final relegation spot. The club will need to win against Lyon and hope one of the clubs above it falters in the season's final week. Fortunately for Monaco, there are six clubs above it that could potentially slip into the relegation zone depending on how next week shakes out. There's even a possibility that Monaco could survive with just a draw, but the club would do well to take matters into its own hands.
AJ Auxerre 0, Brest 1
Lens 0, Arles 1
Lyon 0, Caen 0
Marseille 2, Valenciennes 2
Montpellier 0, AS Monaco 1
Nice 2, Lorient 0
Paris St. Germain 2, Lille 2
Sochaux 2, St. Etienne 1
Stade Rennes, 0, AS Nancy Lorraine 2
Toulouse 2, Bordeaux 0
What did you think of this weekend's results? Glad to see Lille get its first Ligue 1 title of the modern era? Disappointed to see Blackpool or Birmingham go down? Share your thoughts below.
Boy I Love Losing SuperBowls 🙁
Mildly dissapointed we won’t be seeing Ian Holloway’s lively press conferences in the EPL next season…
Way to go RZ! Aguirre and Gabi keep the blanquitos up!
lol. Don’t forget Detroit!
Congrats, Lille. I love it when longtime losers finally win a title. It gives some hope to the Buffalos and Clevelands of the world…