Montpellier Champions League hopes fade

PÂRIS - Surprise package Montpellier's hopes of playing in the Champions League next season suffered a blow when they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Montpellier, who also dropped points last week with a 2-2 draw at strugglers Le Mans, opened the scoring in the first half courtesy of Argentine midfielder Alberto Costa but the visitors levelled in added time through Turkey forward Colin Kazim-Richards.

The draw left Montpellier in fourth place on 59 points from 33 games, nine points behind leaders Olympique Marseille and four from second-placed Auxerre.

"We did what we could," Montpellier coach Rene Girard told reporters. "It's true that we're slowing down at the moment but we're trying our best."

With five matches left, Montpellier face a struggle to finish second and qualify directly for the Champions League.

They are now clearly under pressure from Lille, in fifth place just a point behind after crushing Monaco 4-0 with two goals from midfielder Yohan Cabaye.

"The idea tonight was to get back into the top five but if we can make the top three, we wouldn't mind," said Cabaye.

Monaco coach Guy Lacombe fumed while watching a dismal display from his side and was ordered to the stands for throwing a water bottle shortly before the break.

"I regret what I did, it was stupid, but I was just mad," Lacombe told reporters.

St Etienne and Paris Saint-Germain, who do not have much to fear nor look forward to in the season's final straight, played out a goalless draw in dull late action.

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