Belhanda lifts Montpellier
French high-fliers pull five points clear at top
Last Updated: April 27, 2012 10:59pm
Younes Belhanda: Scored the only goal of the game against Toulouse
Younes Belhanda fired Montpellier to a 1-0 victory as they kept their Ligue 1 title push on course against Toulouse.
Olivier Giroud also missed a second-half penalty for the visitors, but it did little to affect the final outcome as TFC failed to take advantage.
The win takes Montpellier five points clear at the top of the table, although nearest challengers Paris St Germain have a game in hand.
Toulouse gave the leaders a scare in the opening minute with a left-footed volley from Franck Tabanou which had to be palmed away by goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren.
But the visitors were in front a minute later thanks to Belhanda, who found a way past three defenders before firing a right-footed shot low into the net.
Marco Estrada came close to adding a second four minutes later with a free-kick which skimmed the crossbar on its way over, while Toulouse responded with a shot from distance from Adrien Regattin which dipped too late.
Home goalkeeper Ali Ahamada did well to tip over a lob from Giroud as Montpellier threatened once more.
Toulouse were denied an equaliser after 28 minutes when Jourdren blocked a low drive from Pavel Ninkov before Tabanou saw his shot on the rebound cleared off the line by defender Hilton.
It was a huge let-off for the visitors, who then saw Ahamada make another good save to slap away a close-range header from Giroud.
Giroud made it a hat-trick of misses after 57 minutes when his penalty, following a handball by Tabanou, was kept out by Ahamada.
And the Toulouse goalkeeper came to his side's rescue once more seven minutes later with Giroud again the frustrated party.
The home side's best chance for an equaliser arrived after 65 minutes with a low right-footed volley from Emmanuel Riviere, but Jourdren got down well to keep the shot out.
French Ligue 1
|1||Paris St Germain||16||37|
|15||Evian Thonon Gaillar||16||19|