Clermont Auverge (25) 40
Tries: Lapandry, Nalaga 2, Parra, Cudmore Pens: James Cons: James 3 Drop-goals: Floch
Leicester (9) 30
Try Allen, Flood, Staunton Pens: Flood 3 Con: Flood 3
Nalaga scored two tries as Clermont dominated Leicester
A late fightback from Leicester was not enough to prevent them suffering a damaging Heineken Cup loss at Clermont.
An Alex Lapandry try and two Napolioni Nalaga scores were a testimony to the home side's first-half superiority.
Toby Flood gave Leicester a glimmer of hope with three penalties but a Morgan Parra try extended Clermont's lead.
Anthony Allen and Toby Flood went over for the Tigers before a Jamie Cudmore try eased home nerves only for Jeremy Staunton to cross again for Leicester.
It was an amazing last 20 minutes that saw the visitors come within a whisker of clinching a bonus point their performance had barely deserved.
But for Cudmore's late score the Tigers would have taken a bonus point by virtue of being within seven points of their opponents.
And in the final minute a spill from Nalaga almost gave Flood a chance to touch down before the ball was eventually kicked into touch.
Despite this, the French side's dominance in the first hour of the match ensures they will be favourites to secure victory in next Saturday's return fixture at Welford Road.
In a lively opening, Brook James and Flood traded early penalties before Lapandry gathered wing Julien Malzieu's offload, and then linked superbly with Anthony Floch before crossing unopposed.
Flood's second penalty did little to disguise the clear gulf in class between the sides as moments later Nalaga broke through a weak tackle from Aaron Mauger and crossed, with James converting as he had previously done for Lapandry's try.
Flood completed a hat-trick of penalties but this was quickly cancelled out by Floch's drop-goal.
On the stroke of half-time Clermont added a deserved third try with Nalaga crossing for his second score.
A James penalty and Parra's touchdown appeared to have taken the home side out of sight.
However, in an amazing last 20 minutes Allen and Flood crossed to give the Tigers hope of salvaging something, before Cudmore's score seemingly ended them, only for Staunton's touchdown to spark a frantic finish.
It is the first time two-time European champions Leicester have conceded 40 points in the competition, and the defeat leaves them three points off the pace being set in Pool Three by Clermont and the Ospreys.
Leicester fly-half Toby Flood:
"Credit to Clermont for that first 50 or 60 minutes, they played very well.
"But for us it is a big look at ourselves. Clermont came out of the blocks and we turned over the ball and conceded points.
"We let it go during that first hour and we are really disappointed they got that far ahead of us."
Leicester Tigers backs coach Matt O'Connor told BBC Radio Leicester:
"We gave them too many opportunities and you cannot afford to do that with the quality of their finishers."
"Morgan Parra is a good half-back. Brock James is a good general, and Aurelien Rougerie and Julien Malzieu are world class."
Clermont Auvergne: Floch, Nalaga, Rougerie, Canale, J. Malzieu, James, Parra, Domingo, Ledesma, Zirakashvili, Cudmore, Privat, White, Lapandry, Bonnaire.
Replacements: Lavae for Canale (65), Williams for James (78), Senio for Parra (64), Faure for Domingo (73), Wepener for Ledesma (75), Debaty for Zirakashvili (63), Pierre for Privat (66), Vermeulen for Lapandry (36).
Leicester: Hamilton, Tuqiri, Allen, Mauger, Tuilagi, Flood, Grindal, Stankovich, Davies, Castrogiovanni, L. Deacon, Parling, Newby, Moody, Crane.
Replacements: Staunton for Mauger (60), B. Youngs for Grindal (46), Ayerza for Stankovich (41), Chuter for Davies (52), Kay for L. Deacon (66), B. Deacon for Moody (61).
Not Used: Cole, J. Murphy.
Ref: Alan Lewis (Ireland).