An early goal from Souleymane Camara proved enough for Montpellier to eke out a narrow victory over Valenciennes and establish a five-point lead over Paris St Germain at the Ligue 1 summit. Camara put the hosts ahead after just four minutes and although Montpellier missed numerous chances to ease their nerves with a second, it proved enough for them to pull clear of PSG, who play their game in hand against Sochaux at the Parc des Prince tomorrow.
The home support at the Stade de la Mosson got the early goal they craved when Marco Estrada freed Younes Belhanda and his cross was deflected in by Camara. John Utaka almost made it 2-0 seven minutes later but, having chested down a long ball, his goal-bound volley struck a defender and bounced to safety.
Valenciennes threatened an equaliser on a rare foray forward on the quarter hour mark but Mathieu Dossevi's shot was deflected wide by defender Henri Bedimo. Montpellier finished the half on the front foot, though, with Bedimo cracking an effort into the sidenetting.
The second period was one-way traffic as Montpellier surged forward only for some fine goalkeeping from Nicolas Penneteau to keep them out.Olivier Giroud was denied by Penneteau after 54 minutes and Penneteau frustrated the France international once again 12 minutes later.
Giroud saw another header palmed to safety after a good cross from Garry Bocaly and Penneteau completed a good night's work by tipping away a Giroud curler. And his personal heroics almost resulted in an unexpected point when, with just four minutes to go, a stunning 25-yard drive by Renaud Cohade crashed against the bar.