Montpellier held by Toulouse in Ligue 1 opener

10 August 2012 10:16

Reigning champions Montpellier got their season off to a frustrating start on Friday as they could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to nine-man Toulouse.

Rene Girard's hosts lifted their first ever league title in May but then lost their league top scorer Olivier Giroud to Arsenal pre-season and the result was a relative lack of sharpness which saw them pay the price of two dropped points.

Nigerian striker John Utaka sent Souleymane Camara clear for the hosts in the 34th minute and he clipped home - but instead of capitalising Montpellier found themselves pegged back 18 minutes from time when Wissam Ben Yedder headed home from a cross by Serge Aurier.

Toulouse also drew at the Stade de la Mosson - perhaps a positive omen for Montpellier, who still went on to deprive Paris Saint Germain of a first title since 1984.

This time the visitors were left hanging on grimly after they had Adrien Regattin and Serge Aurier sent off.

Montpellier had themselves played for almost an hour a man short after Tunisian star Jamel Saihi was red-carded for a foul on Francois Sirieix six minutes before the break.

The southerners also lost their Champions Trophy opener, albeit on penalties, to Lyon - and Girard will doubtless be concerned after their failure to get their season off to a flier given that big-spenders PSG will fully expect to see off a Lorient wise which only just stayed up in their opener on Saturday.

Even so, Montpellier may take comfort from the fact that Lorient have regularly upset PSG - including in Paris - in recent years.

Under experienced former Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti, PSG are widely expected to go one better than runners-up this time round as well as punch their weight in the Champions League after a decade on the European sidelines, given the pot of money their Qatari benefactors have made available to the capital club.

In other Saturday action, 2011 champions Lille travel to former giants Saint Etienne while Lyon are in action at Rennes.

On Sunday, 1950s giants Reims, back in the top flight after 33 years, host a Marseille side who have lost coach Didier Deschamps to the France job and who have turned to Elie Baup, in recent years a TV pundit but former coach of Bordeaux, Nantes and Saint Etienne.

Source: AFP