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Brest clinch direct UCL berth after Lille's late collapse


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Surprise package Brest secured Champions League qualification for the first time in their history after pipping Lille to a top-three place in Ligue 1 on the final night of the French season on Sunday.

Brest began the day in fourth place, behind Lille on goal difference, with the top three in France's top flight going straight into next season's expanded 36-team Champions League and the side in fourth entering in the preliminary rounds.

The club from Brittany duly did their bit by easing to a 3-0 victory away at Toulouse thanks to second-half goals by Mahdi Camara, Jordan Amavi and Kenny Lala.

They then needed a favour in Lille, and got one as the home side conceded late to draw 2-2 with Nice.

Lille had trailed to an early Gaetan Laborde goal, but looked set to get the victory they needed when Hakon Haraldsson and Benjamin Andre scored after the break to turn the game around.

However, Jordan Lotomba's injury-time strike earned a point for Nice, who were already guaranteed to finish fifth and will be in the Europa League next season.

Lille, who reached the Champions League last 16 in 2022, will now have to come through two qualifying rounds to get into the league stage of Europe's elite club competition.

Brest had never previously finished above eighth in the top flight and so will be playing in Europe for the very first time next season.

It is expected that they will have to play home games in the Champions League at a neutral venue as their own Stade Francis-Le Ble does not meet UEFA requirements.

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