Friday, May 11, 2012

11 May 2002 - Lorient Finishes On A High Note

On 11 May 2002, Lorient won their first major honor despite finishing dead last in the league. And they celebrated it with an unexpected guest.

The Ligue 1 season ended one week earlier with Lorient at the bottom of the table, having managed only seven wins and ten draws on the year. But they fared better in tournament play, finishing as runners-up to Bordeaux in the Coupe de la Ligue, then reaching the Coupe de France Final where they faced fellow league strugglers Bastia.

Bastia had gotten the better of Lorient in the league, with a win and a draw in their two meetings. But in the final, played before a crowd of 60,000 at the Stade de France, it was Lorient who claimed the advantage with a goal from captain Jean-Claude Darcheville. In the 47th minute, the forward beat Bastia defender Christophe Deguerville to a long ball, then chipped keeper Ali Boumnijel for the day's first and only goal.

During the post-game celebration, prankster Rémi Gaillard, wearing a replica Lorient shirt, made his way onto the pitch and proceeded to join in their celebrations. The players failed to recognize him as an intruder as he proceeded to have his photo taken with them and the cup, and even lined up with the team to shake hands with French President Jacques Chirac.

Lorient spent four seasons in Ligue 2 before returning to the top flight in 2006.

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