PARIS: Patrice Evra scored his first goal for Marseille in Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Nice to extinguish the visitors’ hopes of claiming an automatic Champions League qualifying spot.
Ricardo Pereira and Dalbert both hit the post for Nice inside the opening 15 minutes, but Marseille grabbed the lead when Bafetimbi Gomis headed in his team-leading 18th goal of the season.
Mario Balotelli equalised shortly after half-time, bundling in from close range to set a new career best with his 15th league goal of the campaign.
France international Evra popped up with the winner on 66 minutes with a diving header from a Maxime Lopez cross to nudge Marseille ahead of sixth-placed Bordeaux and into the final Europa League berth.
“Evra? I’m happy for him, but aside from his decisive goal the team performed well,” said Marseille coach Rudi Garcia.
Nice suffered just a third defeat of the season and were officially eliminated from the title race. They will finish third with Paris Saint-Germain six points clear in second place and owning a far superior goal difference.
Lyon face a monumental challenge to turn around a 4-1 deficit in next Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg against Ajax, but Bruno Genesio’s side are at least destined to return to the competition next term after a 3-2 home win over Nantes.
Valentin Rongier gave Nantes a first-half lead at Parc OL, but Nabil Fekir equalised from the penalty before Maxwel Cornet’s brace either side of a Guillaume Gillet effort left Lyon five points clear of Marseille in fourth.
Monaco took another big stride towards securing their first Ligue 1 crown since 2000 with a 3-0 victory at Nancy on Saturday.
Leonardo Jardim’s men lead PSG by three points with a game in hand and need just one win from their final three matches to all but sew up a remarkable league triumph.
PSG though retained an outside chance of denying Monaco with a 5-0 rout of bottom side Bastia as Edinson Cavani scored twice but also missed a penalty to climb up to 33 goals for the campaign.