Olympique Lyonnais returned to winning away from home with a 1-0 victory over Sedan at the Stade Louis Dugauguez. The French champions now hold a 12-point lead over Lille, Lens and Nancy.
“It will be the third away match in seven days for the internationals… I have to take that into account.” As a result of a highly-charged calendar and a injury hit forward line, Gérard Houllier went with a new-look starting XI. In attack, Loïc Rémy was offered the first start of his short Ligue 1 career. The midfield was reinforced with a new foursome of Diarra, Toulalan, Källström and Juninho. Leading the attack, the injuries to Fred and Benzema saw John Carew back up font. And the Norwegian wasn’t slow in getting into the action. His effort from just inside the area scraped the outside of Patrick Regnault’s post (5’). At the end of another great team move, he went within a whisker of turning home Anthony Réveillère’s cut back, but the Sedan ‘keeper, blocked with his legs (12’).
Far from being overwhelmed by his Ligue 1 debut, Carew’s strike partner Loïc Rémy, took matters into his own hands firing wide (7’ and 9’) before drawing another save from Regnault (25’).
Clearly dominating proceedings, Les Lyonnais were unable to translate that into goals. Juninho’s free-kick couldn’t hit the target (16’). Just like the headers from Carew (30’) and Cris (32’).
Sedan were struggling to keep their opposition in check and Houllier’s men were firing on all cylinders. Juninho stung Regnault’s palms (33’), Jérémy Toulalan fired high and wide (41’), Källström couldn’t do any better with a low shot that skimmed wide (45’). The opening 45 minutes was one-way traffic. At the break, Lyon had taken 15 shots to one.
Making a better start to the second half than they did to the first, Sedan fought back. Réveillère and Grégory Coupet almost made a mess of an otherwise harmless long-ball (46’), before Marin drew the OL ‘keeper into a more traditional save with a good effort minutes later (50’).
But after that brief local resistance, Lyon wrenched back the upper hand. Carew went looking for the opener. After two shots on target (50’ and 52’), a header over the bar (57’) and a solo run (72’) the giant Norwegian made way for Hatem Ben Arfa for the final 15 minutes. Right from his entry, the young winger broke down the left and his cut back was turned passed his own ‘keeper by Abdou (80’).
At the final whistle, Lyon celebrated a deserved win. Even if it was a long time in coming, the bottom line is: OL has extended their lead a little bit more at the top of the standings. With 12 points more than the chasing pack, the quintuple champions of France can look towards Madrid and a date with Real in Group E of the Champions League. Whether it’s with their national teams, the championship or the Champions League, Lyon players are moving ahead, match after match. There’s no time to wait, OL are heading for the heights.