Toulouse, Montpellier share the spoils
© AFP

Cheikh M'Bengue earned Toulouse a share of the spoils at the Stade de la Mosson this evening to deny Ligue 1 leaders Montpellier a return to winning ways as they finished level on a goal apiece.

Geoffrey Dernis had given Montpellier a seventh-minute lead as they looked to get back on track after last weekend's surprise defeat at Valenciennes. However, M'Bengue equalised five minutes before the interval to frustrate the hosts, who could not find a winner in the second half - even after the 87th-minute dismissal of Toulouse midfielder Franck Tabanou.

The result moved Montpellier a point above Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the capital club's clash with champions Lille tomorrow, although they will be disappointed not to have opened up a three-point cushion particularly after their fast start.

Henri Bedimo latched onto a long ball and found Olivier Giroud, whose shot was saved by Ali Ahamada. The rebound fell to Bedimo and, although he too was denied by the Toulouse goalkeeper, the ball rolled kindly for Dernis to tap home the follow-up from close range.

Etienne Didot lashed over the bar seven minutes later as the visitors attempted to get back on level terms. But, for the most part of the first half, a second goal for Montpellier looked more likely than a Toulouse equaliser.

Ahamada got down well to keep out a left-footed Dernis strike and was again in the right place to save a Younes Belhanda free-kick soon after. However, Toulouse netted an equaliser out of nothing in the 40th minute, Dernis squandering possession to M'Bengue, who raced towards goal and curled in a brilliant shot from the edge of the box.

Montpellier keeper Geoffrey Jourdren was needed to fist away a Tabanou free-kick four minutes into the second half as Toulouse attempted to complete the turnaround. But as the half wore on it was the hosts who again looked the more threatening.

Substitute Souleymane Camara provided the cross from which Giroud headed narrowly wide in the 69th minute and was again involved 12 minutes later, seeing his header cleared off the line by Didot after Ahamada had failed to deal with Marco Estrada's corner.

Tabanou was sent off three minutes from time, a foul on Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa earning him a second yellow card, but there was no time for Montpellier to capitalise.