Ligue 1 leaders Montpellier Herault extended their lead to six points on Tuesday with a 2-2 draw with Evian Thonon Gaillard, but will rue missing a last-minute penalty, which was delayed as a free-for-all saw four players sent off.
Senegalese striker Souleymane Camara saw his penalty saved, after calm had been restored, to leave Montpellier six points ahead of big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, who could cut it to three if they beat AS Saint-Etienne at home yesterday.
Camara, who had set up leading scorer Olivier Giroud for a second-half equalizer to make it 2-2, had to wait while first Cedric Mongongou of Evian and Montpellier’s Moroccan playmaker Younes Belhanda were red-carded.
Referee Olivier Thual then intervened after both sides and their respective coaching staff clashed on the touchline, and he wielded red cards at Evian’s Tunisian forward Saber Khalifa and Montpellier substitute Gregory Lacombe, who had not played any role in the match.
Montpellier had taken the lead with a somewhat generously awarded penalty in the 42nd minute.
Evian’s Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen was penalized by the referee for fouling Olivier Giroud when he jumped up to take the ball and turning his back, and unsighted, he made contact with the France striker’s head.
Giroud collapsed to the ground and despite Evian protests, Belhanda stepped up and all but tapped the penalty gently past the goalkeeper.
Evian, though, replied in ideal fashion and leveled shortly before the break.
Khalifa rose unmarked and headed down to Danish midfielder Thomas Kahlenberg, who made no mistake from a few meters out.
Montpellier had dominated the opening 40 minutes, with their two outstanding players Giroud and Belhanda creating all sorts of problems.
Giroud went close on a couple of occasions, an athletic turn and volley which scraped the crossbar being the pick of the chances, while he also set up Belhanda with a header, but the Moroccan snatched at the chance and it flew wide.
It was the visitors, though, who went into the lead in the second half as Kevin Berigaud edged himself just ahead of two Montpellier defenders and got the tip of his boot to the ball and prodded it home.
The hosts got back on level terms when Giroud got a deserved reward for his night’s work, as he slid the ball through to Camara inside the box and he returned the ball back to the striker, who made no mistake.