Tue, Mar 09, 2010 - Page 18 News List

LFP: Champions thwarted by Montpellier

AFP , PARIS

Olympique Marseille’s Edouard Cisse, right rear, is punched by Lorient goalkeeper Fabien Audard, left, during their Ligue 1 match in Marseille, France, on Sunday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Champions Girondins Bordeaux found themselves thwarted on Sunday as title rivals Montpellier shocked them with a stoppage-time equalizer to leave both sides locked at the top of Ligue 1.

A goal on the hour from hotshot Marouane Chamakh looked to have given Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux the points at the Chaban Delmas Stadium after the visitors missed two penalties, but Argentine Alberto Costa rescued Montpellier with a free-kick four minutes into stoppage-time that home goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso spilled over the line.

Montpellier should have been home and dry earlier, but they missed two spot-kicks — Carrasso ironically producing a superlative stop to deny Costa and then saving a second kick from Victor Hugo Montano, who was made to retake his kick for an infringement having netted the first attempt.

Bordeaux had Michael Ciani sent off after he brought down Montano inside the box for the first penalty on 32 minutes.

The stalemate left Bordeaux on 52 points from 25 matches with Montpellier, surprise title contenders, on 52 points from 27 matches.

“We showed what we are capable of — we had two penalties and should have killed them off,” Montpellier coach Rene Girard said.

Bordeaux defender Marc Planus said: “We dropped two points, but at least the other teams close to us also did — and it’s a fair result. Montpellier are a very good team.”

As Bordeaux bemoaned two points lost, their immediate rivals did likewise, as Olympique Marseille, seeking a first championship success in 19 years, lost ground after Lorient held them to a 1-1 stalemate at the Stade Velodrome.

Senegalese international Mamadou Niang notched his 15th goal of the season two minutes before the break to put the Mediterranean side into a deserved lead, but instead of the floodgates opening, Laurent Koscielny nudged in from close range for mid-table Brittany side Lorient midway through the second half.

The solitary point left Marseille in fourth place with 49 points from 26 games, one point behind Olympique Lyonnais — who have played a game more.

Lyon, their minds possibly on their upcoming Champions League return date with Real Madrid, could only manage a goalless draw at struggling Boulogne-sur-Mer on Saturday.

Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said he was frustrated by Sunday’s wasted opportunities to gain a win which could have sent his men a point clear of Lyon.

“It’s very frustrating considering the amount of chances we carved out. We have won numerous games with less chances,” Deschamps said. “Just one point is small reward for what we produced — we did everything in our power to win this match, but we will keep going.”

In Sunday’s other match, bottom club Grenoble were held to a 1-1 draw by visitors Le Mans.

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