Mon, Dec 19, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Toulouse stop Montpellier from clearing three points

AFP, PARIS

French league leaders Montpellier were prevented from pulling three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after being held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Toulouse on Saturday.

Victory would have sent Rene Girard’s side three points clear of second-placed Paris Saint--Germain (PSG) and they took a seventh-minute lead when Geoffrey Dernis followed up John Utaka’s shot to slam home.

However, the hosts could not hold out until halftime because Cheikh M’Bengue drew Toulouse level with a fine goal five minutes before halftime.

The Senegalese left-back intercepted a loose ball and strode forward before bending a sweet right-footed shot around Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren from just outside the box for only his second Ligue 1 goal.

Etienne Capoue cleared off his own goal-line twice as Toulouse hung on, while the visitors finished the game with 10 men after Franck Tabanou saw red for two bookings late on.

“I’m a bit disappointed because we deserved better,” Girard said. “One team tried to play. I’m not sure that Toulouse played much.”

At Stade Velodrome, Mathieu Valbuena rode to Marseille’s rescue once again with a glorious equalizer and an injury-time assist in a 2-1 win over nine-man Lorient that kept Didier Deschamps’s side in eighth place.

Lorient had Lamine Kone sent off for a last-man foul on Loic Remy in the 33rd minute, but went ahead with 13 minutes to play when substitute Innocent Emeghara nutmegged Nicolas N’Koulou and rounded Steve Mandanda to score.

Valbuena scored a memorable winning goal at Borussia Dortmund earlier this month and he repeated the trick with six minutes remaining, bending a fine strike in off the crossbar from 22 yards out.

A surreal finale saw Remy hit the bar and Alaixys Romao sent off after receiving a second booking for dissent, before Benoit Cheyrou converted Valbuena’s free-kick to claim a 95th-minute winner.

“There were 15 crazy minutes at the end of the match,” Deschamps said. “It’s good to keep believing until the end but we can’t afford to dream either. If it turns out like that every time, fine, but I’d like us to control the game a bit better.”

In other Le Ligue play, it was:

‧ Lyon 2, Evian 1

‧ Nice 2, Valenciennes 0

‧ Saint-Etienne 2, Dijon 1

‧ Brest 1, Auxerre 0

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