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Leicester's unbeaten record in Pool Five came to an end at Perpignan but they head home with a bonus point after a 24-19 defeat.
Geordan Murphy scored the Tigers' only try, with England fly-half Toby Flood kicking four penalties and a conversion.
Perpignan scored tries through Adrien Plante and Jerome Porical, who also matched Flood's 14 points with the boot.
The Tigers had won here in 2001 and held a 3-1 head-to-head advantage, and could have improved on that against a Perpignan side struggling for confidence.
The French side had not won in the Top 14 since October 2 and are the only side in the league without a bonus point. It showed in the opening exchanges as they came up with a string of errors and infringements.
Flood nudged the Tigers ahead after a lineout offence, with Porical replying after Leicester were pinged at the scrum.
Flood looked solid with the boot as he kicked another penalty, but Porical missed woefuly on the half-hour mark and after Jordan Crane made Leicester's first clean break, David Marty was deliberately offside to deny a try and was yellow-carded. Flood kicked the three, but Leicester should have had seven.
Perpignan finally came alive two minutes before the break when Porical's clever chip over the top forced Scott Hamilton to take the ball over for a five-metre scrum.
The hosts had the advantage at the set-piece and after numerous re-sets and two penalties - plus the sin-binning of both hookers - they finally brought the ball out. Nicolas Laharrague fired over a cross-field kick and Plante collected and scored in the corner. Porical converted and the hosts led 13-9 at half-time.
The action improved markedly after the break with both sides playing some ambitious, handling rugby.
Porical's fine step bamboozled Murphy as he scored in the corner, but the Ireland fullback quickly got his revenge, crashing over in the opposite corner after Crane's burst up the middle.
Trailing 18-16 after Porical missed his conversion and Flood succeeded with his, Leicester could have edged ahead only for Flood to miss his first kick of the day.
With Perpignan starting to get on top, two Porical penalties took Leicester out of bonus point range, but Flood cut the deficit again with seven minutes left.
Porical missed late on with a long-range attempt so at least Leicester had something to show for their efforts ahead of the re-match at Welford Road next weekend.
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|Saturday 18th May|
|Clermont Auvergne 15 - 16 Toulon|
|Sunday 28th April|
|Saracens 12 - 24 Toulon|
|Saturday 27th April|
|Clermont Auvergne 16 - 10 Munster|
|Sunday 7th April|
|Toulon 21 - 15 Leicester|
|Harlequins 12 - 18 Munster|
|Saturday 6th April|
|Saracens 27 - 16 Ulster|
|Clermont Auvergne 36 - 14 Montpellier|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Stuart Barnes with skysports.com