Olympique Lyonnais 3-1 Nancy: Les Gones Go Top With Hard Fought Win

Lyon

A strong offensive performance from les Gones gave them a valuable three points against a resilient ASNL side.

Matches between Olympique Lyonnais and Nancy have traditionally been tight affairs in Ligue 1, but this proved to be an entertaining opening encounter, which  the home side deservedly won 3-1.

The early stages of the game suggested the traditionally close affair, but Bafetimbi Gomis’ goal just before the break set-up a very bright second half. Lisandro Lopez made it two for OL, but Youssouf Hadji gave new life to the game soon after. Nancy pushed for a levelling goal but were hit with a stunning sucker punch from Michel Bastos, which ultimately made the closing stages comfortable for the hosts.

Pablo Correa’s visiting side have adopted a somewhat more open approach to the game than the direct style they have shown in previous seasons, but it was scarcely in evidence for lengthy periods of the first half, when their sole aim was to frustrate OL, who only flashed in glimpses.

Many of their best moments would come in the opening 25 minutes of the game. Bafetimbi Gomis, playing at the point of Claude Puel’s side, was a chief cause of grief for the visiting side, wriggling free after 13 minutes to smack a shot that was well saved by Gennaro Bracigliano. 

On 20 minutes a sharp turn and shot from the same player narrowly flew wide, acting as a catalyst for les Gones to rain a number of efforts at the visiting goal in a short space of time. Kim Kallstrom and Michel Bastos, uncharacteristically with his head, threatened for the home side, and Miralem Pjanic was squeezed out by Jordan Loties when in a promising area.

Nancy were certainly not devoid of a threat at this stage, Damien Macaluso having earlier forced Hugo Lloris, the home custodian, into a smart stop. Indeed, Issiar Dia arguably had the best chance of the period, finding himself free on the edge of the Lyon box after a couple of favourable breaks. His shot flew harmlessly wide though.

Just as ASNL seemed to be settling into a strong defensive rhythm, they collapsed. Lisandro Lopez, who was rather quiet after scoring a midweek hat-trick, played a pass to Pjanic. In turn, the Bosnian international played one-time ball into
Gomis, who sent a shot past Bracigliano to crucially break the deadlock.

After receiving this blow, Nancy’s hopes of finding a goal suffered another hit shortly afterwards as Dia had to be withdrawn.

This would sharply be brought into focus early in the second period, when Gomis released
Lisandro, who would out-pace Macaluso before rolling a cool finish into the net.

Dia may have been off, but a relative new-comer to Ligue 1, Paul Afo’o Efoulou was about to enhance his reputation after scoring a brace against Monaco a fortnight ago. It would be the Cameroon international who would shrug off Kallstrom en route to setting up the goal that would bring the red-clad side straight back into the game. They poured forward on the break, with Paulo Andre and Macaluso both involved in the build-up before Lloris had to make a sharp block from the latter. The young goalkeeper had played his part, but he could do little as
Youssouf Hadji headed in the rebound.

Buoyed by this, Nancy’s attacking side came out, with Afo’o Efoulou particularly influential. Cutting inside Reveillere, he slashed well wide, but this was simply the start of consistent pressure on the hosts. Lloris had to be at his very best to turn an angled Florian Marange drive onto the post, and he then produced a strong left hand from nowhere to deny Afo’o Efoulou.

However, Lyon spent €60 million in the summer, and with that kind of money average players don’t tend to be signed. Paying testament to this theory was the goal that would ultimately make OL safe. One touch was enough for
Michel Bastos to get the ball out of his feet, and with room to shoot, he unleashed a shot that generated unbelievable swerve and dip, finding the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Defensively Lyon remained open, though credit has to go to Nancy for their adventure. Julien Feret, however, would have been disappointed with his drive that forced Lloris into a relatively routine block. 

Despite their two goal cushion, Lyon continued to attack with purpose when they were in possession. Lisandro and substitute Cesar Delgado combined well on the left, with the latter only denied at close range by a sharp save from Bracigliano. The goalkeeper would have to be equally aware to race out and smother the most impudent of passes from Michel Bastos, which was being homed in on by Lisandro.

With four minutes remaining, a superb angled drive from distance, emanating from the boot of Hadji, rocked the angle of the crossbar as Nancy continued to pose something of a threat.

Lyon, though, ran out winners in the end as tempers began to get increasingly frayed in the closing stages of the match. The three points see them move top of Ligue 1, a position they are not unaccustomed to having won the league seven times from the last eight seasons, for at least 24 hours. 

General manager Claude Puel can certainly be content with the attacking aspect of his side – they have scored 14 times in four games – but their defence continues to be an apparent weak link, something that will certainly need to be addressed for the Champions League, which starts in only a couple of weeks.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on August 30, 2009.

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