Olympique Lyonnais went down in Monaco to a goal from Jérémy Menez. So OL won’t be able to beat the away wins record this season, having equalled, with 12 wins on the road, their performance from last year.
OL’s first half suggested that the match would turn out very differently from how it did. Incisive and swift, the Olympiens got off on the right foot. Cris was the first, with an angled header, to send a shiver through the Louis II. From a Toulalan corner, the Policeman’s header hit the base of Roma’s post (4’). The OL central defender showed the way and Benzema followed up. Given a start in the centre of attack for the second match in a row, the young France international didn’t wait long to make his mark, trying his luck several times only to see his shots fly over (5’, 17’ and 42’). At the end of the first half, he even came close to opening the scoring, rounding the keeper only to see his tightly angled shot slide across the face of goal. At the far post, Florent Malouda needed only another centimetre to latch onto it, but couldn’t reach (39’).
Earlier, Gérard Houllier’s men had, as usual been far from playing a closed game. Sidney Govou found the gloves of Roma (20’), Toulalan the stand behind the goal and Eric Abidal, following a beautiful one-two with Karim Benzema, came close to finding his first-ever L1 goal; however, his angled shot fizzed wide of the left post (31’).
Having secured their L1 survival some time ago, Laurent Banide’s men were equally as inclined to go forward. At kickoff, the Monaco manager fielded a fairly attacking line up, with Koller, Piquionne and Menez up front. After a scuffed shot from Perez (10’) Sylvain Monsoreau gave Grégory Coupet a chance to shine. The international keeper spectacularly saved the former Olympien’s header (14’) before easily holding Jérémy Menez’s shot (17’). Menez had little luck minutes later when he shot wide (24’).
But it wasn’t over yet – at the start of the second half, after Piquionne shot over (47’), Menez latched onto a pass from deep from Perez and then beat Coupet in a one-on-one with a skidding shot (59’).
Far from undeserved, the advantage won by Koller and co was just recompense for the Monegasques’ strong start to the second half, and the reaction from the Olympiens was too little to get them back on even terms. On the right, Florent Malouda found the gloves of Roma (60’). Toulalan saw the Italian keeper save his shot (65’) and then Karim Benzema saw his shot blocked by the same man (78’). Roma then perfectly intervened on a corner from the France international (88’). In the dying seconds, Loïc Rémy had a chance to equalise but the OL youngster couldn’t get his shot on target (85’), the same fate that befell Meriem soon after (86’).
At the final whistle, the disappointment was huge for Gérard Houllier as his side’s 13-match unbeaten run came to an end. Since 2001, the Olympiens have failed to win in the principality. But this loss takes nothing away from OL’s fabulous record away from home this season – they have the best away form of any team in L1, with 17 points more than Lens! A veritable abyss! Now they just have to win the contest of best home form by winning on the last day of the season against Nantes in order to put a perfect end to an historic season.