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By Jean-Paul Couret
PARIS, April 21 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon have become the first team from one of the big five European leagues to win six national championships in a row.
Lyon, who have 70 points with six games to play and visit AJ Auxerre on Sunday, took an unassailable lead of 17 points when Toulouse lost 3-2 at Stade Rennes on Saturday.
“Maybe we didn’t reach all our objectives this season but this sixth title is historic,” coach Gerard Houllier told RTL radio after watching the Toulouse match on television with his players at their Auxerre hotel.
“It’s fantastic. I would like to congratulate Gerard, his staff and the players,” said Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas.
The scenario was a repeat of last season’s finale when Lyon ordered their first bottles of champagne in a Paris hotel after second-placed Girondins Bordeaux lost at Lille.
Toulouse, on 52 points with five games remaining, dropped from second to third spot after Racing Lens took their tally to 53 points with five matches to go following a 2-0 victory over Le Mans.
“We thought we had a chance when we opened the scoring but Rennes deserved their win,” said Toulouse defender Dominique Arribage.
“From now on we’ll give everything to reclaim second place and qualify for the Champions League.”
Cameroon-born midfielder Achille Emana gave Toulouse the lead with an extraordinary shot on the half-hour from just inside the Rennes half.
Rennes goalkeeper Simon Pouplin, standing on the penalty spot, diverted the ball on to the post but it bounced back along the line before spinning into the net.
The home team equalised with a 63rd-minute penalty from Jimmy Briand after Walid Cherfa handled.
Rennes went 2-1 up with a 75th-minute free kick from Sylvain Marveaux, only to see Toulouse level two minutes later after a scrambled effort by Fabinho.
Bruno Cheyrou then sealed Rennes’s victory four minutes from time by volleying in a Romain Danze centre.
Three days after reaching the French Cup final, Olympique Marseille climbed to fourth position with a 2-1 win over lowly Troyes.
Djibril Cisse and Modeste M’Bami were the scorers for Marseille.
Pedro Pauleta netted twice as Paris St Germain crushed Nantes 4-0.
The defeat left Nantes rooted to the foot of the table with 30 points from 33 games and looking doomed to relegation for the first time since they joined the elite in 1963.
PSG, who climbed to 15th, are six points above the drop zone but still not safe.