The Warriors had been on top for much of the first half at the GGL Stadium, but left themselves too much to do after going 11 points behind in the second half.
Montpellier go through to a Challenge Cup quarter-final against the winners of Saturday afternoon’s tie between Agen and Benetton. Glasgow now have some enforced time off before the Rainbow Cup begins late this month.
An enterprising start from both teams saw Adam Hastings open the scoring with a second-minute penalty after Montpellier had strayed offside. After quarter of an hour Alex Lozowski brought Montpellier level from a penalty in front of the posts, but Hastings replied within minutes to restore his team’s advantage. Lozowski was wide with a subsequent attempt, but the on-loan Saracens stand-off made no mistake after 25 minutes when Glasgow offended again.
Huw Jones, who had been his team’s most dangerous attacker up to that time, was forced off by an ankle injury and replaced by Niko Matawalu. The Fijian went on to the wing, with Rufus McLean moving to full-back, and Hastings then made it 6-9 with a dozen minutes left in the half.
Ali Price was fortunate not to concede a penalty try after appearing to tackle Johan Goosen early, but then Montpellier did manage to score with a minute to play in the half when captain Guilhem Guirado rumbled over from a lineout maul after a penalty had been sent to touch. Lozowski added the two points, and after trailing for most of the half Montpellier went in at the break 13-9 ahead.
That became 20-9 within a few minutes of the restart, as a nicely timed pass from Vincent Rattez put Anthony Boutier in for his team’s second try, with Lozowski again converting. Glasgow thought they had hit back through a tap penalty and run from Fraser Brown, but the score was chalked off for a knock-on.
Montpellier lock Bastien Chalureau was sinbinned for a team offence, and eventually another Hastings penalty reduced the deficit to 20-12. That was a glimmer of hope, but then Ioane, who had only come on minutes earlier, was sent off for a shoulder-to-head contact on Yvan Reilhac.
Lozowski’s penalty made it 23-12, but Hastings’ fifth successful kick kept his team just in contention, then the stand-off’s replacement Ross Thompson narrowed the gap further.
But just as Glasgow’s hopes of a fightback grew, Lozowski added three more points. Then, in a frenzied final flurry, Martin Devergie and Nick Grigg were yellow-carded for separate incidents, and Thompson added another penalty. Lozowski was wide with one last attempt at goal but his team held on.
Scorers: Montpellier: Tries: Guirado, Bouthier. Cons: Lozowski 2. Pens: Lozowski 4.
Glasgow: Pens: Hastings 5, Thompson 2.
Montpellier: A Bouthier; J Goosen, A Vincent, J Serfontein (Y Reilhac 41), V Rattez; A Lozowski, C Reinach; E Forletta, G Guirado (captain) (B du Plessis 59), M Haouas (T Lamositele 54), F Verhaeghe (M Devergie 70), B Chalureau, N Janse van Rensburg, Y Camara, A Becognee. Unused substitutes: R Rodgers, C Timu, J Danglot, J Tisseron.
Glasgow: H Jones (N Matawalu 25); R McLean, N Grigg, S Johnson, L Jones; A Hastings (R Thompson 68), A Price (G Horne 59); O Kebble (D Evans 74), F Brown (captain) (G Turner 55), Z Fagerson (E Pieretto 68), R Gray, R Harley (L Nakarawa 74), F Lokotui (T Ioane 55), T Gordon, R Wilson.
Yellow cards: Montpellier: Chalureau 50, Devergie 74. Glasgow: Grigg 76.
Red card: Glasgow: Ioane 58.
Referee: K Dickson (England).