Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy
News

Nantes end Montpellier's European hopes

Publish on 17/05/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

Share

Kalifa Coulibaly and Florent Mollet exchanged goals in a 1-1 draw at the Stade de la Mosson which means Montpellier Hérault SC's European hopes are over.

Montpellier Hérault SC 1-1 FC Nantes 

THE MATCH

Europe was still on the menu for Montpellier at kick-off, while Nantes travelled south undefeated in six, and both teams started with attacking intent. Abdoulaye Touré came closest in the opening exchanges, the Canarismidfielder getting past Damien Le Tallec before firing wide (8'). Andy Delort missed a handful of half-chances at the other end before Nantes punished the hosts' profligacy through Coulibaly, who followed up on Touré's parried shot to slot home his eighth goal of the season - seven of which have come in 2019 (24'). A few minutes later news filtered through at the Stade de la Mosson that Robert Beric had opened the scoring for fourth-place AS Saint-Etienne against OGC Nice - meaning La Paillade had to score two to keep their European ambitions afloat. Their urgency duly increased; their accuracy did not. The closest Michel Der Zakarian's men came to getting back on level terms before half-time was an acrobatic effort from Diego Carlos, which sailed over Benjamin Lecomte's goal (38').

Montpellier frustrated

Mollet fired high from the edge of the Nantes box early in the second half (49') before Der Zakarian attempted to change tack, bringing attacking midfielder Junior Sambia on for centre-back Nicolas Cozza (57'), but it was another MHSC sub, defender Mihailo Ristic - who had entered the fray at half-time - who had the next telling contribution, clearing a Carlos header from a corner off the line (66'). Andy Delort has smashed home a team-high 14 goals for Montpellier this season, but how he failed to make that 15 after meeting a Sambia cross at the back post, only he can know (67'). Mollet pulled one back with a free-kick which span past Maxime Dupé via his wall (76'), but by this time ASSE were two-thirds of their way to a 3-0 win. Delort attempted to force the issue with another shot, but it had Carlos and span clear (77'). Peter Skuletic had a pair of headers sail narrowly off-target (87', 89') having come on final stretch, and Montpellier had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

THE PLAYER: Florent Mollet

Mollet was desperately unlucky not to find himself on the winning side here. The string-pulling midfielder scored with one of his two shots at goal, but his stand-out contribution was keeping Montpellier in control, completing 91 per cent of his passes in the middle of the park with a blend of calm and urgency.

THE STAT: 6

Montpellier are fifth, with six points to make up on Saint-Etienne andonly three left to play for. A first European campaign since 2012/13, the season after they shocked France with their hitherto only Ligue 1 Conforama triumph, will have to wait.