Lens’ Franck Haise after sealing European qualification: “Three years ago, we were in Ligue 2.”

Lens won their all-important clash at the top of the Ligue 1 standings against Marseille on Saturday night. The Artois side have leapfrogged Les Phocéens to go second with four games left to play. A second-place finish would give the Franck Haise-led side automatic qualification to the Champions League group stage and Rennes’ and Lille’s losses on Saturday meant that the team can no longer finish lower than fourth in the Ligue 1 standings. European football will return to Stade Bollaert-Delelis next season – a tremendous achievement from RC Lens, only the tenth-richest Ligue 1 club.

Haise has explained he used that fact as a motivation for his players during his pre-game pep talk. “I ended up congratulating them before the match but I also said that we had to keep being ambitious”, the Lens manager said in his post-game press conference that RMC Sport attended. Goals from Séko Fofana (28) and Loïs Openda (23) over Marseille ensured Lens are now in the driving seat to seal their return to the Champions League. “Three years ago, we were in Ligue 2“, assessed Haise. “It means a lot of work has been done. To bring Lens back into Europe is a great pride.

With only a six-point deficit on struggling league leaders PSG, can Lens aim higher and cause the greatest upset of all ? “No, I believe Paris will be champions“, added Haise. 

GFFN | Bastien Cheval

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