Connacht’s hopes of reaching the Heineken Champions Cup knockout stages for the first time died in Galway after they were outgunned by French champions Toulouse who finished with 13 men.
Connacht found themselves on the back foot for long periods as Toulouse produced an excellent display to seal their place in the last eight.
The four-time European champions had suffered home and away defeats to Connacht in the past but they bossed this contest for most of the encounter in front of capacity crowd of 8,129.
Connacht enjoyed a great start when they struck for the opening try after ten minutes after Jack Carty charged down a kick in midfield and as they piled forward they got three penalties in succession when Carty tipped into the right corner.
Eventually referee Luke Pearce lost patience and awarded a penalty try in addition to binning Toulouse veteran lock Joe Tekori.
But it was Toulouse who hit back and when Colby Fainga’a was binned after a clash of heads with Sofiane Guitoune, the French hit back.
Connacht survived a penalty to the left corner when Ultan Dillane stole it but an infringement by Bundee Aki on the other wing was punished when Toulouse went to the corner and after several phases skipper Jerome Kaino got over, with Thomas Ramos converting to make it 7-7 after 20 minutes.
The Toulouse pressure told again before the break and after a good lineout take from Florian Verhaeghe, they got the drive and hooker Julien Marchand scored, with Ramos adding the conversion from the right to make it 14-7 at the interval.
Connacht were again forced to defend deep after the restart and Toulouse struck seven minutes after the restart.
Carty had a clearance charged down by scrum-half Antoine Dupont and former Connacht centre Pita Ahki got the touchdown, with Ramos adding the touchline conversion to make it 21-7.
Connacht never gave up and had chances to get back into the game but struggled to find a way through but they had an extra man for the closing nine minutes when replacement Yoann Huget was binned for a tip tackle on Tiernan O’Halloran.
Then two minutes later out-half Zach Holmes was red-carded for a high tackle on O’Halloran but Connacht continued to be wasteful in the 22 and the game finished with Toulouse in attack but with 13 men they failed to get the bonus point.
Connacht: penalty try;
Toulouse: J Kaino, J Marchand, P Ahki tries. T Ramos 3 cons ;
T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, B Aki, T Daly, M Healy; J Carty, S Kerins; P McAllister, T McCartney, F Bealham; U Dillane, G Thornbury; P Boyle, C Fainga'a, J Butler (c).
Replacements: J Maksymiw for Dillane (40), C Blade for Kerins (47), D Heffernan for McCartney (47), D Robertson-McCoy for Bealham (53), D Buckley for McAllister (57), E McKeon for Boyle (62), J Porch for Adeoloukun (68), D Horwitz for Carty (76).
T Ramos; A Bonneval, S Guitoune, P Ahki, C Kolbe; Z Holmes, A Dupont; C Castets, J Marchand, C Faumuina; F Verhaeghe, J Tekori; R Elstadt, J Kaino (c), S Tolofua.
Replacements: P Mauvaka for Marchand (50), R Neti for Castets (50), D Aldegheri for Faumuina (50), R Arnold for Verhaeghe S Bezy for Dupont (62), Y Huget for Bonneval (62), A Placines for Tolofua (68), E Ntamack for Ahki (76).
Luke Pearce (England).