Giovanni Sio found the net twice as Montpellier Hérault SC surged into fifth place in the Ligue 1 Conforama table with a 3-1 win at SM Caen on Sunday.
SM Caen 1-3 Montpellier Hérault SC
Three points behind fifth-placed Stade Rennais FC, who play their Week 31 fixture against AS Monaco on Wednesday, Montpellier have made slow progress towards their European goal in recent weeks with their six-game unbeaten run including five straight draws.
Caen were hoping to plump up the six-point cushion between themselves and the bottom three after just one win in their last six league games, and Patrice Garande's men nearly struck first - Benjamin Lecomte did well to keep out Stef Peeter's shot (12').
Jérôme Roussillon's return to full fitness after a thigh injury has not only steaded Montpellier at the back, but given them greater impetus going forward. The raiding full-back started the move that led to Sio tapping in from close range to open the scoring (22').
One-nil quickly became two. Junior Sambia's corner was flicked on by Sio at the near post, and the unmarked Ellyes Skhiri headed past a helpless Rémy Vercourtre (23').
With Montpellier boasting the second-best defence in the league, Caen's task was suddenly mountainous. The Normandy outfit went close through an Alexandre Djiku header (50'), but only Vercoutre stood between Vitorino Hilton and a game-clinching third soon after (52').
The former Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper was beaten again though just two minutes later - sent clear by Sambia, Sio saw his initial effort saved, but followed up to take his league goals tally into double figures for the season (54').
Lecomte thwarted Peeters again (57') and Vercoutre frustrated Ruben Aguilar, but Montpellier claimed three points that leave them fifth, ahead of Rennes and OGC Nice on goal difference, despite Ivan Santini's late consolation strike for the hosts (88').
THE PLAYER: Giovanni Sio
There was nothing spectacular about his ninth and tenth league goals of the campaign, but the Ivorian was in the right place at the time his team needed him. With a defence as solid as they have, Michel Der Zakarian's men just need to take the few chances they create, and Sio does that.
THE STAT: 13
Montpellier have lost just once in their last 13 league games, and that was against Paris Saint-Germain.