Lens’ relegation from Ligue 1 was sealed on Sunday afternoon as they slumped to a 3-1 loss at derby rivals Lille.
Pablo Chavarria offered the visitors a glimmer of hope with the opener, but Sofiane Boufal pulled Rene Girard’s men level before the interval with second-half goals from Djibril Sidibe and Divock Origi securing the win.
Defeat left Lens 12 points from safety at the foot of the table but with only three matches remaining as coach Antoine Kombouare’s side now prepare for life in the second tier.
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Both sides had early efforts at goal but it was Lens who took the lead with 24 minutes on the clock when Taylor Moore’s superb ball from deep released Chavarria, who ran on before slotting beyond Vincent Enyeama to silence the home fans.
Lille could have equalized less than 10 minutes later when Sidibe burst into the area before pulling the ball back for Nolan Roux, but his close-range effort was superbly kept out by Rudy Riou.
Then, with half-time looming, Lille were offered a perfect opportunity when some trickery from Adama Traore in the area forced a clumsy challenge from Loic Landre and referee Tony Chapron pointed to the spot.
Boufal took charge from 12 yards and confidently sent Riou the wrong way to send Lille in level at the break.
Boufal and Rony Lopes teamed up well soon after the restart to force another save from Riou as the hosts looked to gain the advantage for the first time.
And they got the breakthrough they deserved after 74 minutes when a poor Lens throw-in gifted possession to Idrissa Gueye, who battled his way into the area before setting up Sidibe at the back post.
The hosts almost made it three in the final stages when Simon Kjaer’s superb direct free-kick was denied only by a post.
However, Girard’s side did add a third deep into added time when Florent Balmont and Ryan Mendes linked up well on the counter before the latter teed up Origi for a confident finish from inside the area.