Andy Delort's second-half strike cancelled out Loïck Landre's early opener as derby rivals Nîmes Olympique and Montpellier Hérault SC played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
Nîmes Olympique 1-1 Montpellier Hérault SC
The duo's youth teams had played out a six-goal thriller decided in Montpellier's favour by a penalty shoot-out in the Gambardella Cup in midweek, and when Landre powered in a Téji Savanier corner with less than two minutes on the clock, the odds looked good for a repeat.
But derbies have a tendancy to be high on industry and passion, and low on inspiration and precision, and both sides proved that maxim as they battled each other into submission before the break.
Neither goalkeeper was significantly tested until Benjamin Lecomte kicked away a Renaud Ripart shot (47') and then parried a Savanier drive (48') early in the second half as Nîmes threw off the shackles.
Jordan Ferri — a busy and inventive presence alongside Savanier in the home midfield — saw Lecomte leap to his left to grasp a curling shot top-corner-bound (54') before Paul Bernardoni was beaten by a deft lob from Delort (74').
Initially ruled out for offside, VAR showed that when Gaëtan Laborde had delicately flicked the ball over the top of the home back four seeking the run of Delort, his strike partner had been comfortably onside.
Delort's eighth league goal of the season might have been merely the platform for a second Montpellier derby win of the campaign, but Bernardoni magnificently kept out Damien Le Tallec's close-range header in added time (90+1') to deny Michel Der Zakarian's men the chance to move ahead of AS Saint-Étienne and into fourth.
THE PLAYER: Anthony Briançon
The Nîmes captain produced the sort of display fans would if they were playing for their club in a derby. He handled the twin threat of Laborde and Delort well, even if they still managed to fashion an equaliser.
THE STAT: 10
Montpellier are unbeaten in ten Ligue 1 Conforama games against newly promoted teams, and have lost just once in their last 14 top-flight encounters with newboys.