Tue, Feb 21, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Hoarau’s late strike thwarts Montpellier

Reuters, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain’s Maxwell shoots against Montpellier Herault in their Ligue 1 match at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Substitute Guillaume Hoarau struck two minutes from time to salvage a 2-2 home draw for Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain in an enthralling top-of-the-table clash with confident Montpellier Herault on Sunday.

John Utaka’s header looked to have sealed a famous away win for Montpellier, but France international striker Hoarau tapped in after a good move to send the Parc des Princes delirious.

Montpellier, top scorers in Ligue 1 this season with 47 goals, have surprised most pundits by lasting the course and they deserved to at least stay a point behind the leaders after 24 games of the 38-match season.

“I don’t believe in Santa Claus,” Montpellier president Louis Nicollin, who did not travel to Paris, told Canal + TV when asked if his modest side could win the title. “I’m gutted, but then again I’m happy with a draw.”

Defender Alex blasted PSG into an unlikely lead with a swerving free-kick after 41 minutes, but the visitors hit back on the stroke of halftime through Younes Belhanda, as a team who finished way down in 14th place last season showed immense character.

Girondins de Bordeaux earlier continued their improvement and increased Olympique Lyonnais’ domestic woes when Yoan Gouffran struck just before the break to seal a 1-0 home win.

Fifth-placed Lyon lost 2-1 at home to lowly Stade Malherbe Caen the previous weekend before a 1-0 Champions League victory over APOEL Nicosia in midweek, and their inconsistency and nervousness in front of goal was again evident on the west coast.

In the other early Ligue 1 match, AS Saint-Etienne thumped Stade Rennais 4-0 to leapfrog the Brittany side into sixth.

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