PARIS: Stade de Reims, runners-up in the first-ever European Champions Cup Final in 1956, are on their way back towards the top division of French football after a 1-0 win over promotion rivals Troyes who thus slipped three points behind them. Cédric Fauré grabbed an acrobatic  last-minute winner, his 11th goal of the season.

Reims, from the Champagne region, have been absent from the elite ever since 1979, some 33 years.

Three clubs will be promoted. Bastia are out in front with 64 points, Reims have 54 and Troyes 51 with Clermond – held 1-1 at Boulogne – on 50.

Coach Hubert Fournier admitted to his relief at Reims’s recovery to victory after their 2-0 defeat at Nantes last Monday.

Reims were one of the dominant European clubs in the 1950s and early 1960s. They also formed the backbone of the French national team who finished third at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

Stars included playmaker Raymond Kopa – greatest French footballer before the eras of Michel Platini and then Zinedine Zidane – and the left-wing partnerhip of Roger Piantoni and Jean Vincent. Centre-forward Just Fontaine still holds the record, set in 1958, of 13 goals in one World Cup finals tournament.

In Italy promotion hopes are burning bright for another ‘old great’ after Torino went top of Serie B after a goalless draw against Bari. Verona slipped back after losing 3-1 to Crotone.

Torino were much-admired champions of Italy five times in a row in the 1940s but their entire squad – the backbone of Italy’s national team – were wiped out in the 1949 Superga air disaster.

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