Lionel Messi helps PSG secure record 11th French league title, breaks European scoring record
PSG's Lionel Messi kicks the ball during the French League One soccer match between Strasbourg and Paris Saint Germain at Stade de la Meinau stadium in Strasbourg, eastern France, Saturday, May 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Lionel Messi helped Paris Saint-Germain clinch a record 11th French league title on Saturday, and broke another scoring record in the process.

Messi scored the opening goal as PSG drew 1-1 at Strasbourg to move four points clear of second-place Lens with one game left.

Messi put PSG ahead from Kylian Mbappe’s pass in the 59th minute. Former PSG striker Kevin Gameiro equalized for Strasbourg in the 79th.

It was Messi’s 496th career league goal in Europe, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s scoring record for Europe’s top five leagues. It could also be his last, as the Argentina star is widely expected to leave PSG at the end of the season and has been linked with a possible move to Saudi Arabia or MLS.

Lens secured second place and automatic entry into next season’s Champions League by beating relegated Ajaccio 3-0 at home, with Belgium forward Loïs Openda reaching 20 league goals in his first season at the club.

Defending champion PSG overtook former French powerhouse Saint-Étienne, which won its 10th title in 1981 but was relegated to the second division last season.

PSG has won nine of its 11 titles since Qatari backers QSI took charge 12 years ago, with the first of those in 2013. PSG’s other titles were in 1986 and ’94.

“This is of course an historic moment for Paris Saint-Germain. This 11th French league title is the reward for all the hard work we have put in over the last 12 years,” said PSG president Nasser al-Khelaïfi, who has been in control since 2011. “To make Ligue 1 history and overtake Saint-Etienne is a real source of pride.”

The title will be celebrated next Saturday at Parc des Princes when PSG hosts Clermont in what could be Messi’s last game for PSG. He has not taken up the option for an extra year on the contract he signed two years ago.

Messi has felt the ire of PSG fans at times this season after his form dipped following his return from Argentina’s victory at the World Cup, and he was suspended by the club this month after an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia. But in the end it was his goal that allowed the fans to celebrate — and gave Messi a 43rd career major trophy for club and country.

It was a second league title for PSG coach Christophe Galtier, after he guided Lille to an against-the-odds success in 2021, when his side finished ahead of PSG.

Marseille lost 2-1 at home to Brest but finished in third place and enters the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Marseille is the only French club to win Europe’s top competition and fans lit fireworks in the southern port city on Friday night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its victory against AC Milan.

Fourth place secures entry into the Europa League and Lille moved into pole position after beating Nantes 2-1 at home thanks to two penalties from Canada striker Jonathan David as he reached 24 goals.

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