Montpellier salvage draw
MONTPELLIER, France ● French champion Montpellier needed a second-half equalizer from striker Souleymane Camara to salvage a 1-1 draw at home to Saint-Etienne on Friday.
Montpellier, which lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday, has won only once in the league and is languishing down in 14th place ahead of the weekend action, with just five points from six games.
Camara spared his team another defeat when he converted a pass from winger Remy Cabella in the 70th minute, moments after blazing a great chance over the crossbar.
“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.”
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave the visitors the lead on the stroke of halftime when he turned in Max-Alain Gradel’s cross to the back post. Aubameyang had hit the post a minute before.
“Obviously we’re a bit disappointed,” Aubameyang said. “We played well against a good Montpellier side and we had a lot of chances.”
Saint-Etienne is in provisional eighth place with seven points.
Montpellier defender Mapou 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.
On Saturday, Paris Saint-Germain looks to continue its good form when it travels to play Corsican side Bastia, while French leader Marseille will aim for a sixth straight win when it hosts Evian on Sunday.