French champs settle for draw

Defending champions Montpellier were held to a 1-1 draw by Saint Etienne on Friday, bringing an end to a frustrating week where they had suffered two successive defeats.

Beaten 3-1 by promoted Reims seven days ago, and then 2-1 at home to Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday, Montpellier needed a second-half equaliser from veteran Senegalese international striker Souleymane Camara to salvage a point Friday.

In the 69th minute, substitute Marco Estrada released Anthony Mounier down the left flank.

His cross was cleared by Jean-Pascal Mignot before Remy Cabella picked up the loose ball to put Camara through for the goal.

Saint Etienne had gone ahead in the third minute of injury time at the end of the first half when Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed his fourth goal of the season.

Max-Alain Gradel created the opportunity by accelerating away down the left, away from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa before crossing to the far post where Aubameyang scored into an empty net.

Montpellier boss Rene Girard was furious that his team had to play on Friday after such a tough European encounter.

"I am not paranoid. I simply say that it's a question of fairness. We played Arsenal, one of the best sides in Europe; we did not play Pink Floyd of Kiev," said Girard.

Montpellier are 14th in the table with five points, 10 points behind leaders Marseille, while Saint Etienne are eighth with seven points.