Division 1 Féminine - Matchday 18 Round-up: Nîmes and Saint-Maur relegated

Two of the three relegation spots were filled at the weekend, as two teams faced the drop with four games to spare.

Division 1 Féminine - Matchday 18 Round-up: Nîmes and Saint-Maur relegated
Ada Hegerberg celebrates her hat-trick against ASPTT Albi. (Photo: Maya Mans)

Nîmes Metropole Gard and VGA Saint-Maur were relegated from Division 1 Feminine at the weekend after respective defeats.

Not much changed in the standings, but the realities of what some teams can achieve this season became a lot more clear on a sobering matchday.

Relegation is now confirmed for two, while there was a slight twist at the top as third met fourth.

Nîmes and Saint-Maur sent down

The bottom two were sent down to D2 after failing to pick up more than a consolation point each on Sunday.

Nîmes were the losers in a huge relegation six-pointer with La Roche-sur-Yon, who kept their chances of survival alive with a big 4-2 win on the road. It was the former who took the lead, with Elodie Ramos on target after seven minutes. However, they could not deal with the fighting spirit of their opponents.

La Roche came back with two goals before the break, Aline Liaigre and Claire Guillard on target, whilst they both completed doubles in the second half after Laurie Saulnier equalised in the 50th minute.

The victors are now six points from safety with four games to play, but will be inspired by this win and will hope to take confidence into their final few fixtures in order to stay up.

Joining Nîmes in the second tier next season, meanwhile, are Saint-Maur, despite the terrific fight they put up against Paris Saint-Germain. Stephanie Leocadie put the strugglers ahead against the French giants after 18 minutes, and for a long time it looked like they were going to cause the shock of the season.

However, PSG's quality shone through in the end as three goals in the final 19 minutes helped save their blushes. Kenza Dali equalised on 71 minutes, Cristiane gave her team the lead with six to play, and Perle Merroni then made sure a few minutes later.

Thirteen points from safety, it's now mathematically impossible for Saint-Maur to secure their spot in the top flight for next term.

Who will be next?

So, who will be the third team to go down? La Roche are the favourites, occupying that one remaining and undecided spot in the relegation zone.

Above them are Guingamp, who kept their distance from the bottom three with a big win on Sunday. Their 3-1 win over Saint-Étienne played its part in condemning the bottom two to relegation, with it making the gap to safety too big for both Nîmes and Saint-Maur, but it also gave them huge confidence heading into their last four games.

Desire Oparanozie will be confident in particular after her hat-trick gave Guingamp the three points. After giving her side the lead from the spot after only three minutes, she then responded to Julie Peruzzetto's 11th minute equaliser with a further two strikes in the second half - claiming the match ball for herself and the win for the hosts.

ASPTT Albi, on the other hand, are just a point above Guingamp now - and thus only seven above the drop. They fell to an expectedly heavy defeat against leaders Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday, with the final score 6-0.

Ada Hegerberg's hat-trick took her to 26 for the season, while Eugenie Le Sommer and Camille Abily added to the scoreline. Corine Petit then rounded off the scoring in the 76th minute; a perfect way to celebrate the new deal she signed at the club this week.

The final team who can still be caught in the relegation race are Soyaux. They fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Rodez at the weekend, meaning they are eight points above the drop.

Flavie Lemaitre and Oceane Saunier got the goals either side of a red card apiece for the two teams, but, in reality, Soyaux seem more than safe in this survival scrap despite the loss.

Desire Oparanozie had an outstanding game on Sunday as she bagged three match-winning goals for Guingamp. (Photo: Lisa Tilly)
Desire Oparanozie had an outstanding game on Sunday as she bagged three match-winning goals for Guingamp. (Photo: Lisa Tilly)

Montpellier; out of the race at the other end?

Turning our attentions to the other end of the table; Juvisy caused something of an upset on Sunday in the late kick-off, beating Montpellier 3-1 on the road to leapfrog them into third.

The result means that they are right back in the race for a top two finish - six points off second - but La Paillade, who have led the chase for some time, seem to be well out of the running.

Montpellier were ahead on their own patch after only four minutes into the game too, with an own goal from Julie Soyer giving them a slender advantage. However, Juvisy would fight back to take the win.

Gaëtane Thiney levelled the scores before the half hour mark, meaning that the visitors came out after the break with the momentum - and they used it perfectly.

Kadidiatou Diana put them ahead on 48 minutes, and Janice Cayman doubled that lead just 60 seconds as Montpellier wondered what had hit them. This was enough for the points in the end too, with the hosts unable to recover as they slipped to fourth.