Three sent off as Montpellier held

French league winners off to an unsavoury season start

12:56 August 11, 2012

Paris: Title holders Montpellier shared three red cards, 42 fouls and two goals as they drew 1-1 with Toulouse in a bad-tempered opening match to the French Ligue 1 season on Friday.

Montpellier, who surprisingly won their first league title against all the odds last season, struck the first blow when Senegalese forward Souleymane Camara turned John Utaka’s pass into the net after a quick break in the 34th minute.

But Rene Girard’s hosts were reduced to 10 men five minutes later, when Jamelle Saihi was sent off for a shocking foul on Francois Sirieix.

Toulouse, eighth last season, made their numerical advantage count when Wissam Ben Yedder headed in Serge Aurier’s cross in the 72nd minute.

But they immediately pressed the self-destruct button when two of their players were dismissed in the next 12 minutes.

Adrien Regattin was first to go for a flying two-footed tackle on Daniel Congre and Aurier followed in the 84th for a dangerous tackle on Henri Bedimo.

Paris St Germain, who have spent more than €100 million (Dh451 million) on their team, are the clear favourites to win the title. Montpellier have said they cannot compete with the Qatari-backed Parisians.