Canadians in Europe: David puts LOSC on precipice of Europa
Jonathan David put Lille on the verge of a return to European competition. Plus, it was another trophy for Kadeisha Buchanan and Jessie Fleming, heartbreak for Deanne Rose and Cyle Larin continued to do what he can to keep Valladolid in the top flight. Here's a look at what Canadians were up to in Europe.
Jonathan David, Lille - If Jonathan David is truly set to leave Lille this summer, then he's going out with a bang. The Brooklyn-born Ottawa native put LOSC on the precipice of Europa League qualification heading into the final matchday of the Ligue 1 season all while striking a major blow against Nantes's hopes of staying up. At the top of the table, Paris Saint-Germain's 1-1 draw with Strasbourg on Saturday was enough for Christophe Galtier's side to claim a second straight league title and their ninth in 11 seasons. It also marked PSG's 11th French league title, taking them one clear of Marseille and Saint-Étienne for most ever. PSG will be joined in the Champions League next season by second-place Lens, who will go directly to the group stage, and by third-place Marseille, who will play in the third qualifying round with PSV, Rangers, Sparta Prague, AEK, Sturm Graz, Braga and Serbian side TSC joining them there. While the Champions League places in France are locked up headed into the final match of the season, there are still other European places left to play for next Saturday. Ligue 1's fourth-place team will head to Europa League, alongside Coupe de France winners Toulouse, and the fifth-place team will enter Europa Conference League. As it stands, that fourth-place team is LOSC by virtue of a 2-1 victory over Nantes on Saturday in what was a pivotal contest at both ends of the table. It was Nantes who shockingly grabbed an early lead thanks to a terrible mistake from Aleksandro Ribeiro. In the 17th a Nantes long ball was corralled by the Brazilian defender, who had time and space for a pass back to goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier, but he misplayed his first touch and was dispossessed by Quentin Merlin. In alone on the 'keeper, Merlin beat Chevalier to make it 1-0 against the run of play. The visitors would hold onto their lead until halftime as LOSC headed into their locker room to a chorus of boos from supporters. Paulo Fonseca's introduction of Adam Ounas in place of Mohamed Bayo paid almost immediate dividends. Played into the area by Remy Cabella, Ounas was taken to ground by a clumsy challenge from Charles Traore. Referee Eric Wattelier immediately pointed to the spot. It was David who stepped up to take the spot kick, clipping it inside the post with Albant Lafont powerless to stop it to make it 1-1 in the 51st. With 10 minutes to play, Lille would have a chance to grab a winner. From a corner, Lafont came off of his line to punch the ball away, but his attempt was poor and he ended up punching Carlos Baleba in the side of the head. After a VAR check, a penalty was confirmed and it was once again David's duty to step up to the spot. In almost a carbon copy of his first attempt, Lafont guessed right this time and swatted the attempt out of the air, redeeming himself for giving away the penalty...but not so fast. Once again, VAR intervened, informing the ref that Lafont had been well off his line for the penalty attempt and it would need to be retaken, despite the protests of almost every Nantes player who surrounded Watellier. Surprisingly, David went to his right for a third time and he once again found pay dirt, beating Lafont and giving LOSC a 2-1 lead in the 81st that they would hold onto and see out the victory. The brace took David to 24 league goals on the season and brought his Lille total to 58, taking him just three behind Pierre Pleimelding for most ever in a LOSC shirt. But with a summer move looking increasingly likely, this weekend's match with already relegated Troyes might be his last opportunity to match or even overtake the record. For Lille, the three points were precious. A three-match winless run for Monaco, including Saturday's 2-0 loss to Rennes, has allowed LOSC to move one point clear of both Monaco and Rennes for fourth spot and that final Europa League place. LOSC is a good bet to pick up three points on Saturday against a poor Troyes side. Rennes visits Brest, while Monaco hosts Toulouse. One of those three teams will miss out on European competition. As for Nantes, Auxerre's 1-1 draw with Toulouse means they are now two points away from safety headed into their final match. They will need to beat bottom-of-the table Angers and hope that Auxerre does not beat Lens in order to avoid playing in Ligue 2 next season.
Jessie Fleming and Kadeisha Buchanan, Chelsea, and Deanne Rose, Reading - Stoppage-time magic in the Manchester derby last Sunday is what kept Chelsea from celebrating a fourth-straight Super League title. Manchester United's 91st-minute winner from Lucia Garcia in a 2-1 victory over Manchester City meant that the Super League title would go down to the final matchday of the season on Saturday with Emma Hayes's Blues two points clear of United atop the table. United did their part to keep the heat on the defending champions with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool on a goal from Garcia. But Chelsea's visit to Reading had major ramifications at both ends of the table. A Blues win would give Chelsea the title, but it would also condemn the Royals to relegation. Even still, a victory for Reading wouldn't guarantee safety with the Royals needing help from Brighton. Buoying Reading's hopes was a return to the starting lineup for Canada forward Deanne Rose. The Alliston, Ont. native's recovery from an Achilles injury had been a lengthy one after incurring the injury last September. She made her return to action in last weekend's 4-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur and Saturday's match would be her first start since the injury. The Blues' Canadian duo, Jessie Fleming and Kadeisha Buchanan, would start the match on the bench. Reading withstood an early onslaught with Sam Kerr missing a sitter and Grace Moloney making a 10-bell save on Erin Cuthbert, but the dam broke in the 18th. Shaking off her defender, Guro Reiten floated a cross directly in front of goal where Kerr made no mistake with a header to make it 1-0. Still working herself back into full game shape, Rose would be taken off in the 33rd for Madison Perry. The Blues would double their lead in the 42nd, taking advantage of an error from Easther Mayi Kith. A long ball from Cuthbert was misplayed by the Quebec City-born Cameroon defender, allowing Reiten to pounce and beat Moloney through the wickets to take a 2-0 lead into the half with the job halfway done. Kerr would wrap up the three points and the title in the 88th when she found her own rebound after side-footing off the post to poke home and make it 3-0, which would hold for the final. While Buchanan didn't enter the match, Fleming came in for a late cameo, replacing Cuthbert in the 85th. For Fleming, this was her third league title in three seasons at Chelsea and her seventh major honour. Buchanan, who arrived from Lyon in the offseason, claims a second honour in her first season in London, having also won the FA Cup. In her seven professional seasons, Buchanan has now won six league titles, four national cups (an FA Cup and three Coupes de France) and five Champions League titles to go along with Olympic gold and bronze medals. At only 27, Buchanan will very likely need a much larger trophy case going forward.
Cyle Larin, Valladolid - There is still work to be done for Cyle Larin and Valladolid heading into Sunday's final match of the season with Getafe. As it stands, Valladolid is headed for relegation, sitting in 18th on 39 points, a single point away from safety. Regardless of what happens this weekend, the Brampton, Ont. native's loan move from Club Brugge has been a resounding success. Larin's eight goals in his 18 matches lead the team and his midweek performance against champions Barcelona led to a signature victory. Larin was involved in all three of Valladolid's goals in Wednesday's 3-1 victory. Valladolid got on the board in only the second minute when Darwin Machis's attempted ball to Larin was spectacularly turned into his own net by Andreas Christensen's head. Really, it was a gorgeous diving header from the Denmark defender, but unfortunately, it was into his own goal. Larin got a goal of his own in the 22nd from the spot when Eric Garcia took Gonzalo Plato to ground after collecting a pass from Larin. Marc ter Stegen guessed right on Larin's penalty attempt, but Larin had enough power to get it under the diving Germany 'keeper. Then in the 70th, Valladolid wrapped up the three points in style after a VAR check when Larin played in Plata to beat ter Stegen for a 3-1 win and a massive three points. But Sunday's 0-0 draw against fellow relegation-threatened side Almeria leaves Valladolid in a precarious spot heading into the final fixture of the season against Getafe. But the good news is, their fate is in their own hands. Beat Getafe and play in La Liga next season. There is a scenario in play where Valladolid would survive with only a draw, but that would require external help, so a final day win is what Larin and co. must aim for. Can they take care of business? Well, that remains to be seen.