The aim was clearly stated before kick-off. And Les Lyonnais got what they were looking for before returning to Champions League action next week: they are back at the summit of Ligue 1…
With one eye on Tuesday’s match, OL coach Alain Perrin decided to start Milan Baros alone up front to preserve Karim Benzema. The absence of Cleber Anderson, not qualified, forced Mathieu Bodmer back into the centre of the defence.
At kick-off, Lens boasted the best defence in the league and Lyon wasn’t expecting to create a wealth of scoring chances… nothing could have been further from the reality. If there has to be a negative aspect to Lyon’s evening, it must be that they didn’t kill off the match earlier – but to do that, you have to hit the target. Despite being under constant pressure, Lens ‘keeper Vedran Runje had to wait until the 90th minute to finally make a save from… Laurenti. Indeed, with three goals from the only three shots on target, Lyon certainly made them count. Baros’ shot-cum-cross ended up in the side netting (4’). Then, one-on-one against Len’s Croatian shot-stopper, the Czech hooked his shot wide (10’). Kader Keita fired high and wide. At the end of a brilliant run, Brazilian Fabio Santos missed the target (31’). Juninho’s free-kick flew just wide of Runje’s right-hand upright (35’).
br> Deliverance finally arrived moments before the break. Milan Baros, on the limit of offside, crossed low and hard across the face of goal for Fabio Santos. In tackling the ball home uncontested, the Brazilian not only opened the scoring, but scored his first ever goal in a Lyon shirt (43’).
In the 4-3-3 formation, Kim Källström started wide on the left before returning to the midfield when Juninho was replaced by Benzema in the 65th minute. The Swede immediately sprang to life. His range-finder flew past the post (78’), before he beat Runje with a stunning long-range effort (81’). And then in the final minutes, after a superb dribble down the left touch line, Karim Benzema added a third, his ninth of the season – confirming his place at the top of the Ligue 1 goal scorers’ charts.
Also of note was the new-look defence which held firm. If Jean-Pierre Papin’s side boasted the best defence at kick-off, they also have the most sterile attack in the league. And that is still the case after their visit to the Stade Gerland, despite an excellent Aruna Dindane. But that was thanks to a top notch performance from Lyon ‘keeper Rémy Verocutre. Coupet’s stand-in denying Dindane (9’, 19’, 75’) and Boukari (70’).
Thanks to the comfortable victory, the reigning champions are back in the position they have made their own in recent seasons…