Sun, Sep 23, 2012 - Page 18 News List

SOCCER: LIGUE 1: Champions Montpellier settle for point after hard week

AFP and AP, PARIS

Montpellier Herault’s Senegalese forward Souleymane Camara, right, scores a goal during their Ligue 1 soccer match against AS Saint-Etienne on Friday at the Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier, southern France.

Photo: AFP

Defending champions Montpellier Herault were held to a 1-1 draw by AS Saint-Etienne on Friday, bringing an end to a frustrating week in which they had suffered two successive defeats.

Beaten 3-1 by promoted Stade de Reims seven days ago, and then 2-1 at home to Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday, Montpellier needed a second-half equalizer from veteran Senegalese international striker Souleymane Camara to salvage a point on Friday.

In the 69th minute, substitute Marco Estrada released Anthony Mounier down the left flank.

His cross was cleared by Jean-Pascal Mignot before Remy Cabella picked up the loose ball to put Camara through for the goal.

Saint-Etienne had gone ahead in the third minute of injury time at the end of the first half when Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed his fourth goal of the season.

Max-Alain Gradel created the opportunity by accelerating away down the left, away from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, before crossing to the far post, where Aubameyang scored into an empty net.

Montpellier boss Rene Girard was furious that his team had to play on Friday after such a tough European encounter.

“I am not paranoid. I simply say that it’s a question of fairness. We played Arsenal, one of the best sides in Europe; we did not play Pink Floyd of Kiev,” Girard said.

Montpellier are 14th in the table with five points, 10 points behind leaders Marseille, while Saint-Etienne are eighth with seven points.

“We started the first half poorly,” Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren said. “I’ve said this several times now, but we will have to react. We’re trying to fight back, but for the time being it’s not happening for us.”

“Obviously we’re a bit disappointed,” Aubameyang said. “We played well against a good Montpellier side and we had a lot of chances.”

Montpellier defender Yanga-Mbiwa was lucky to stay on the field after elbowing winger Romain Hamouma late in the first half.

Referee Lionel Jaffredo told Hamouma to get up, suggesting he thought he was simulating injury, when replays clearly showed Yanga-Mbiwa’s elbow connecting with Hamouma’s face. This sparked a brief melee, with players from both sides pushing and shoving.

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