Red cards mar Montpellier opener
Montpellier began their Ligue 1 title defence with a 1-1 against draw Toulouse in a match overshadowed by referee Antony Gautier, who showed three red cards.
Souleymane Camara gave the champions a first-half lead only for midfielder Jamel Saihi to be dismissed shortly afterwards.
Substitute Wissam Ben Yedder finally levelled in the 72nd minute, but Toulouse finished with a numerical disadvantage after Adrien Regattin and Serge Aurier were both sent off.
After an underwhelming first 20 minutes, Montpellier’s Remy Cabella tried to spark the match into life when he curled a free-kick goalwards, but inches too high.
Toulouse’s Emmanuel Riviere toe-poked over after dispossessing Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa but it was Montpellier who took a 34th-minute lead.
John Utaka lofted a superbly weighted pass over the visiting defence and, despite a heavy first touch, Camara clipped the ball over onrushing keeper Ali Ahamada.
But just four minutes later, the hosts were down to 10 men after Saihi stretched for a high ball and caught Pantxi Sirieix in the head with a high boot.
Franck Tabanou looked to immediately make the hosts pay but Geoffrey Jourdren made a good diving save, and Benjamin Stambouli blocked Etienne Didot’s low cross after a training-ground free-kick move.
Le Tefece had one last chance before half-time but centre-half Jonathan Zebina failed to do justice to his shirt number of 11, the debutant captain producing an air-shot with his right foot.
Sirieix was replaced at half-time by Ben Yedder and the visitors were soon on the attack, Riviere hooking a volley on the turn over the bar.
Etienne Capoue also went close and Joris Marveaux threatened for Montpellier before the Toulouse equaliser came. Aurier crossed from deep on the right and Ben Yedder headed back across goal to beat Jourdren.
Immediately, though, it was 10-a-side after Regattin slid in on Daniel Congre and was shown a possibly harsh straight red card by Gauthier.
Jourdren denied Toulouse substitute Daniel Braaten after the Norwegian muscled his way through the defence, before Aurier followed team-mate Regattin down the tunnel for a similar challenge on Henri Bedimo.
Utaka curled a 20-yard effort just wide at the start of stoppage time before Yanga-Mbiwa went down clutching his face, seemingly in an attempt to get his fellow France squad newcomer Capoue sent off having not been caught by the midfielder’s high foot, and was lucky to escape a card himself.