Paris lose title: PSG are dethroned in France after Neymar misses penalty as dropped Cristiano Ronaldo edges into Champions League
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe no longer play for the French champions after Lille beat Paris St. Germain to the title on the final night of the Ligue 1 season – and Cristiano Ronaldo has sneaked into the Champions League with Juventus.
Christophe Galtier's Lille had only lifted the top-flight title in France once since 1954 – securing their last triumph when Mbappe was 12 years old – and are thought to pay their entire squad a salary that is little more than half of Neymar's reported annual earnings of around $64 million.
While PSG owners Qatar Sports Investments might have expected a fourth successive title to be little more than a formality at the start of the season for a side with ambitions of Champions League glory, the expensively-assembled European giants have frequently faltered badly, failing to win 12 of their 38 league matches and losing eight times along the way.
Never one to shy from drama, Neymar missed a penalty and was booked for dissent in the first half at Brest, who finished just a point above the relegation zone.
NEYMAR MISSES! 😱Lovely feet from Di María to win the penalty, Neymar steps up, stutters, but puts it wide! 😫Horrible miss in a must-win game 😖 pic.twitter.com/l6QJLbxtiP— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 23, 2021
Ten years later, we are back in dreamland: this is as real as it gets … Following our victory against @AngersSCO, we are @Ligue1UberEats 𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗠𝗣𝗜𝗢𝗡𝗦 𝗢𝗙 𝗙𝗥𝗔𝗡𝗖𝗘 ! ❤️ #Champions4You@NewBalanceFR@NBFootballpic.twitter.com/7uQH6ShZnA— LOSC Lille EN (@LOSC_EN) May 23, 2021
Romain Faivre's own goal before the break and a strike from Mbappe, the division's top scorer, with 19 minutes remaining ensured PSG signed off with a win which was not enough to save their title defense.
Impressive throughout a season in which they have lost only three times, Lille survived a last-gasp scare at Angers to secure a 2-1 win that allowed their wild celebrations to begin, finishing top by a point.
Ronaldo and Juventus endured an equally nerve-shredding finale as their season went down to the wire in their bid to salvage a poor campaign with the fourth-placed finish they needed to secure Champions League football.
If the prospect of one of the greatest strikers of all time playing in the Europa League next season seemed unthinkable, Juventus's uncertain form throughout their title defense – slumping from challengers to a team desperate to finish in the top four in recent months – had made that outcome a distinct possibility.
A short story: Lille sell Pepe and Gabriel to Arsenal for £95m. Lille use the money to win Ligue 1 for the first time in 10 years. Arsenal finish 8th. pic.twitter.com/DqNMAy10hB— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 23, 2021
Incredible work by Lille board to win the Ligue1 title against PSG 🔴🏆Congrats to Christophe Galtier - he’s set to join OCG Nice now.Top signings like Burak Yilmaz for free.Former Lille director Luis Campos - the man who discovered Mbappé - is big part of this masterpiece. pic.twitter.com/9jv8V4frR2— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 23, 2021
Fans across the world might now be relieved that the rumors of a transfer for Ronaldo will not go into overdrive after his team qualified for the flagship competition by a whisker, anxiously waiting for confirmation on the pitch despite cruising to a 4-1 win at midtable Bologna.
Their talisman could have played his final game for the club before their crucial encounter even started, as beleaguered boss Andrea Pirlo left the Serie A top scorer as an unused substitute in the decider.
What mattered more was Napoli's result. The team who started the day in fourth and could have denied Juventus a place at the top table of European football next season with a win were only able to draw 1-1 at home to Verona, spurning the lead by conceding an equalizer with 21 minutes remaining.
It proved an almighty relief for Juve, whose season will now not go down as a total disaster after a turbulent few weeks that have included their much-maligned involvement in the doomed European Super League, of which chairman Andrea Agnelli was a heavily-criticized ringleader.
Napoli’s goal means Juventus are 30 minutes from finishing outside the #UCL places 👀 pic.twitter.com/YLJXK0NpJL— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 23, 2021
Juventus have qualified for next season's Champions League by one point! 😅 pic.twitter.com/D5flBpFPGp— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 23, 2021
“It was a shared decision," Pirlo told DAZN of the decision to axe his superstar striker for such an important game. "Ronaldo was tired after Wednesday’s game, so I decided to start [Alvaro] Morata, another great player.
"Ronaldo was available. I have a deep squad and I can pick many different players.”
The move will inevitably still drive debate around Ronaldo's future after the Portugal captain was said to have shifted some of his cars away from Turin this month.
Only one player in history has finished as top scorer in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.Cristiano Ronaldo 💪 pic.twitter.com/RDEoael3iA— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 23, 2021
“It was important to finish the job: winning the Coppa Italia and qualifying for the Champions League, which was a very important target,” said Pirlo.
“I’ve always put in the total commitment, and this is the result. Those who must decide [my future] will do it.
“I see myself on the Juve bench next season. I would confirm myself, but now we must enjoy what we have achieved.”Also on rt.com Ron the move? Early morning removal of Ronaldo’s luxury cars fuels further rumors of Juventus exit (VIDEO)