Once again Gomis handed OL the win... an OL that showed two distinct sides but who managed to play through their fatigue and weather storm of Montpellier's push for an equaliser...
After the brilliant performance in Marseille, the new league leader's mission was to confirm their form with another win, this time faced with the reigning French champions - a side who hadn't lost in five league matches. Did Rémi Garde have any reason to make changes? Not on the face of things, despite Gourcuff's return to the squad, and knowing that Lisandro, Lovren and Briand were all still unavailable. On top of this, next Thursday's Europa League clash with Shmona would serve as a "break" where Garde could rotate the squad ahead of the derby. For the first time this season, Garde fielded the same starting line-up for a second time. In the Montpellier ranks, youngster Jonathan Ligali made his senior-team debut in light of the injury absences of Jourdren and Pionnier.
OL's warm-up shirts paid tribute to fan group the Bad Gones, who were celebrating 25 years of supporting OL... the north stand was pulsating like never before. Both sides had played on Wednesday night, one in the league and the other in the Coupe de la Ligue... with both running out winners.
It was chilly as night descended on Gerland. Ghezzal got the first shot with a free kick from the right that went wide before getting a long-range shot on target. Ligali had a hairy moment with a bungled clearance. Both sides started seriously, but Gomis was too hot to handle. After Montpellier lost the ball Umtiti found Grenier, who played the OL number 18 into space before cathcing Ligali out with a powerful shot (26').
Grenier drew a fien save from Ligali from a free kick (32'), before the young OL playmaker turned on the fire works with a brilliant technical display that ended with Malbranque shooting narrowly wide! Remarkable… just like the sweeping team move started off by a sweet pass from Ghezzal. OL had the upper hand following their goal and tok a deserved lead into the break.
Would Montpellier bounce back? Would OL stay on top in midfield with the trio of Gonalons-Grenier-Malbranque? Hilton and his teammates weren't precise enough in their ideas. Herrera and Stambouli came on (55') just after Estrada got their first shot on target. Bastos replaced Lacazette (60'). OL were playing deeper and moving less... Camara won the ball and took the chance to have a shot... that went wide. Things seemed to be getting tougherfor the seven-time champions of France. Girard played his last ace by bringing on Cabella.
Camara troubled Vercoutrewith a curling shot (70') as Montpellier got well and truly on top. the final minutes of the match were filled with suspense. Gourcuff replaced Ghezzal to add some denisty in midfield... Ol saw more of the ball but started to show signs of fatigue. Fofana came on to help protect OL's lead. The final seconds were long for the league leaders, but OL held out for the precious three points.
Lyon, Stade de Gerland, ca. 32,000 spectators; referee, Mr. Jaffredo ; OL 1 MHSC 0 (half-time: OL 1 MHSC 0).
Yellow cards: for MHSC, El-Kaoutari (16'), Charbonnier (38'), then Yanga-Mbiwa (69'); for OL, Gonalons (22')