Isaac Mbenza's goal gave Montpellier a 1-0 win away to St Etienne in Ligue 1.
Third-placed ASSE were looking to build on their 3-1 win over Metz last time out and show they could put an inconsistent run behind them.
But it was the visitors who scored an untidy 21st-minute opener when Nordi Mukiele crossed, Giovanni Sio scrambled the ball across the box and Mbenza finished at the second attempt.
Vincent Pajot and Remy Cabella were repeatedly frustrated either side of half-time, with Pajot heading against the crossbar, while Stephane Ruffier denied Mbenza a second at the other end.
St Etienne were twice denied an equaliser late on, Gabriel Silva with one effort deflected in by an offside team-mate before being flagged himself when firing home in stoppage-time.
The win lifted Montpellier to eighth ahead of this weekend's matches, with ASSE unable to put pressure on the rest of the leading teams.