Nabil Fekir hails perfect ending after Lyon qualify for Champions League
A Memphis Depay hat-trick clinched a top-three finish.
Nabil Fekir hailed the perfect ending after Lyon clinched qualification for the Champions League in dramatic fashion.
OL needed to beat Nice to secure third place in Ligue 1 and they did so thanks to a hat-trick from Memphis Depay in a 3-2 victory.
It looks set to be Fekir’s last match for Lyon, with the playmaker heavily linked with a summer move to Liverpool, and if that is the case then he will leave on a high.
He told Canal+: “I spent an exceptional season here, with an exceptional crowd, exceptional players, with an exceptional staff. And tonight we finished in style.”
Lyon should have wrapped up third place last weekend only for Strasbourg to score two late goals, and the nerves were jangling when Alassane Plea gave Nice an early lead.
But Lyon responded brilliantly at the start of the second half and Depay looked to have settled matters with his third four minutes from time only for Plea to score again.
Lyon boss Bruno Genesio appears to have resigned himself to losing Fekir and paid tribute to the France international.
He said: “We are still a young team. There will be changes in the off-season. I savour that after this qualification. We did not panic after the first goal. I take my hat off to Nabil Fekir for his return to the top level. Thanks to him.”
Genesio added: “I was calm until the second Nice goal. We qualify and that’s the most important thing.
“The players gave everything. It’s good to see the players together at the end. I thank them. They showed incredible spirit. I have always been supported and we have the result tonight.”
Defeat was a bitter pill for Nice, who started the day in sixth place but were overtaken by Bordeaux and St Etienne and missed out on qualifying for the Europa League.
It was also confirmed post-match that manager Lucien Favre, who has been tipped to take over at Borussia Dortmund, will leave the club.
Defender Dante said on Canal+: “We had prepared well for this final. We had to win. It still remains a good match. I think that if we had played like that all season, we would have already achieved our goals for a while.
“The club progresses, we could do more this season but football does not always happen as we want. We gave everything but we also learned a lot of lessons for the years to come.”