LOSC leapfrog Montpellier into second
LOSC pulled into second behind Paris Saint-Germain overnight after becoming the first team in eight attempts to pick up all three points over Montpellier Hérault SC at their Stade de la Mosson thanks to Nicolas Pépé's early goal.
Montpellier Hérault SC 0-1 LOSC
LOSC knew that victory would see them leapfrog Montpellier into second behind PSG, for 24 hours at least, and they got off to an electric start at the Stade de la Mosson. Benjamin Lecomte had already made a pair of stunning saves to tip Jonathan Ikoné's effort onto the crossbar (1') before denying Pépé on the half-volley from a corner (2') before he was finally beaten at the third time of asking, Pépé left with a simple finish for his 10th goal of the campaign after Ikoné had danced passed several of his former teammates (6'). After such a whirlwind start, Pépé nearly cost his team when his clearance only went as far as Ruben Aguilar, but he was fortunate to see the Montpellier wing-back's volley fly wide (17'). Gaëtan Laborde then came close for the hosts, forcing Mike Maignan into a close-range, fingertip save (25') before Ellyes Skhiri found himself inches away from getting on the end of Damien Le Tallec's header to make it 1-1 (28'). LOSC settled towards the end of the half and could have carried a two-goal lead into the interval had Xeka's header from a Thiago Mendes corner not sailed over, though (39').
LOSC weather storm
The end-to-end action continued into the second half. Laborde set Florent Mollet away for a chance only to see the diminutive midfielder quelled by Maignan (58'). Minutes later it was Maignan's opposite number Lecomte called into action, diving across goal to keep Xeka's first-time effort out (60'). Daniel Congré came agonisingly close to equalising for the hosts when got free in the area following a corner, but he was denied his first goal since August 2017 by Jose Fonte, who cleared off the line (65'). Both teams made changes for the final stretch: LOSC brought Jonathan Bamba and Rui Fonte on for Loïc Rémy (64') and Luiz Araujo (70') respectively before Montpellier replaced Junior Sambia with Petar Skuletic, who came off the bench to seal a 2-1 win over AS Monaco last Saturday (73). Montpellier looked the most likely to benefit, and Laborde forced another good save from Maignan late on (81') but the chance went begging, as did a share of the spoils, and it ended 1-0 to LOSC.
THE PLAYER: Jonathan Ikoné
Pépé got the goal but Ikoné was the real livewire for the visitors. The France U21 star spent last season on loan at Montpellier from PSG before moving to LOSC on a five-year contract, and performances like tonight explain why Les Dogues were so keen to tie him down to a long-term deal. Ikoné was almost undefendable at times, completed 81 percent of his passes from an advanced attacking position, and was rightly rewarded with his second assist of the season.
THE STAT: 7
Montpellier had not lost at home in seven Ligue 1 Conforama games. The last time La Paillade tasted defeat on home turf was the opening day, when Senou Coulibaly scored an injury-time winner in a surprise 2-1 victory for Dijon FCO.