Surfing the wave of their strong performance against Barcelona on Tuesday, the Lyonnais made a highly successful return to league action.
The other good news: the Olympiens scored in their 11th consecutive match. In the context of their upcoming trip to Glasgow (December 12), where everyone knows OL has to score one more goal than the Scots, and even though the Rangers defenders will offer fewer opportunities than the Strasbourgeois, it augurs well. If the Lyonnais wanted to give themselves some breathing space, they really threw themselves at the task and couldn’t have done it better.
The intensity of the Champions League proved the model for the Olympiens’ start to the game: two goals in 5 minutes and the game was all but over. After Hatem Ben Arfa shot straight at the Strasbourg keeper (19’), it was Källström who, after a move between Juninho, Govou and Benzema, beat Cassard with a deft strike using the outside of his left foot (13’). Then it was Juninho who scored for the 6th consecutive match, from a 25m free kick obtained by Sidney Govou (19’). The Brazilian had already missed a chance to score from a set piece (9’) and later, again from a free kick, he forced Cassard to tip the ball onto the post (33’) and then over the bar (62’).
What followed was one-way traffic. Making the most of Kim Källström’s defence-eliminating pass, Karim Benzema scored his 12th goal of the season (65’). After losing a one-on-one with Cassard (72’), Milan Baros played François Clerc through with a back-heel and the left back made no mistake, notching the first goal of his L1 career (77’). Then Paisley took Govou out in the area, offering Kim Källström a gilt-edged chance to score his second, this time from the spot. He made no mistake (81’). In stoppage time, Cassard denied Sidney Govou a well-deserved goal (90’).
5 – 0, a tough scoreline for a Strasbourg side whose principal mistake was waiting until after OL had gone ahead to start pushing forward in attack. The Alsaciens waited until the 21st minute to have their first shot on goal, and by that time OL was already 2 goals up. Mouloungui shot went well wide of Vercoutre’s goal (21’). Then Gameiro couldn’t latch onto Johansen’s cross (28’). In the second half, Chade and then Johansen were wide of the mark (54’ and 55’). The rest was the work of Rémy Vercoutre. Having put in a strong performance against Barcelona, the OL keeper was at it again, saving Rodrigo’s shot with his feet (61’) before magnificently saving Johansen’s powerful long-range effort at full stretch (63’). Then he safely captured the Strasbourg midfielder’s final effort (86’).
5 days after the game against Barcelona (2-2), the Lyonnais got back to winning ways, something they hadn’t done at Gerland in a month. Little by little, a gap is forming at the top of the L1 table. Now all they have to do is take their imperious league form into European competition and their joy will be complete.