Sio sees off Metz to move Montpellier fifth
Giovanni Sio got the only goal of the game as Montpellier Hérault SC won 1-0 at FC Metz on Saturday to provisionally claim fifth place in the Ligue 1 Conforama table.
FC Metz 0-1 Montpellier Hérault SC
Both sides had been beaten in the Coupe de France in midweek, and now have just the league to focus on. Montpellier's ambitions lie in hoping to squeeze into the European qualifying places, and they soon pushed on towards that goal.
Sio had started Wednesday's cup tie against Olympique Lyonnais on the bench, and — restored to the starting line-up — the Ivorian was unsurprisingly lively. After the home side surrendered possession, Isaac Mbenza burst forward before sending over a low cross that Sio sidefooted home at the far post (24').
Metz had picked up just three points from their last three league games, but had gone five unbeaten before that. Nolan Roux had played a big part in that run, and the former LOSC Lille and AS Saint-Etienne man would have had an equaliser but for Benjamin Lecomte brilliantly winning their one-on-one duel (36').
Florent Mollet was also denied (43') before Mbenza threatened at the opposite end, firing in a sublime long-range effort that Eiji Kawashima brilliantly halted en route to the top corner (45').
Paul Lasne was also denied in the seconds before the break (45+1'), and Kawashima then frustrated Ruben Aguilar (51') as Montpellier sought desperately to give themselves some breathing space.
The momentum then swung back the hosts' way with Lecomte needing to act smartly to deny Danijel Milicevic (78') while Emmanuel Rivière then lunged to try and lob the Montpellier goalkeeper, who watched with relief as the ball cleared the crossbar (82').
Lecomte's excellent save to keep out Florent Mollet's bullet of a long-distance free-kick (83') ensured Montpellier took the three points — their third win in four league outings — to move ahead of FC Nantes in the table ahead of Les Canaris meeting with Lille on Sunday.
THE PLAYER: Benjamin Lecomte
The former Lorient goalkeeper was again brilliant and made amends for his error in midweek that cost his side a place in the Coupe de France quarter-finals. Didier Deschamps could do a lot worse than keep a close eye on Lecomte as he decides who will be his third-choice goalkeeper at the FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer.
THE STAT: 10
Montpellier have now lost just one of their last ten away games in the league, and that was at Paris Saint-Germain.