Camara off bench to grab winner for Montpellier
Souleymane Camara embellished his super-sub reputation still more after coming off the bench to score the winner in Montpellier Hérault SC's 2-1 win over Toulouse FC on Sunday to keep his side in the hunt for a European place.
Montpellier Hérault SC 2-1 Toulouse FC
Montpellier had won just four of their previous 19 league outings, but knew that victory would push them to within three points of fourth place, claimed by Olympique de Marseille with their win over Nîmes Olympique on Saturday.
Michel Der Zakarian's side have struggled in the second half of the season — they won seven of their opening 12 matches — with goals hard to come by, and they showed why with some wayward first-half finishing.
Andy Delort brought the first save of the game from Baptiste Reynet (13') before Damien Le Tallec should have opened the scoring — the well-travelled ex-Borussia Dortmund man was all alone at the back post when Gaëtan Laborde's low cross found its way to him, but he somehow failed to hit the target (16').
Strong at home, Montpellier, who had lost just twice in their previous 14 home matches, had the game under control with Delort, who is on loan at Montpellier from Toulouse, a particular menace.
His strike partner Laborde should have joined him on 11 league goals for the season just before the break, but the ex-Girondins de Bordeaux forward shot over the bar after being found by Ruben Aguilar (40').
Laborde's aim was only slightly awry again when he headed narrowly wide from a Delort centre (49'), and Reynet then spectacularly pushed away a Delort effort (50') before Montpellier deservedly went in front — Ellyes Skhiri firing a rip-snorter of a shot beyond Reynet (55').
Toulouse were on the back foot, but had picked up seven points from their last four league games — as many as in their previous nine — and against the run of play, they soon hit back.
Der Zakarian, an uncompromising defender in his playing days, will want to know why his team failed to deal with the corner that led to Kalidou Sidibé scrambling home the equaliser — his maiden Ligue 1 Conforama goal — to leave Montpellier with it all to do once again (67').
As so often in the past, they called on Camara, and once again, the veteran Senegal international, who turned 36 in December, did not disappoint.
He had replaced Laborde just four minutes earlier when Aguilar burst down the right and provided the ideal cross from someone of Camara's ilk — his near-post header was too good for Reynet (77') as Montpellier eased back into the European reckoning.
THE PLAYER: Andy Delort
Toulouse will surely regret not inserting a clause in his loan deal preventing him from playing against them. The burly striker was a constant threat, always looking to create an opening as take one.
THE STAT: 6
Montpellier scored twice in a sixth successive home game for the first time since 1993.