“OM has a history, Olympique Lyonnais is in the process of writing its own.” At the end of Week 10’s final game, won 4-1 by OL, Juninho’s phrase truly comes into its own, symbolising the current domination that Lyon lords over the domestic game...
This big night of French football was made all the greater by the two sides’ proximity at the top of the standings, the pre-match comments launched by the Marseille camp and the fact that it was the 1000th game broadcast live by Canal+...
Right from the outset, Kim Källström, replacing the ill Tiago, went close to dousing the home fans’ fervour but his effort was turned onto the woodwork by Cédric Carrasso.
Satisfactorily warned, Albert Emon’s side responded immediately. Twice, Samir Nasri but his shot after a fine dribble (11’) passed high, and his follow up, released by Mamadou Niang was closed down by Eric Abidal and he failed to hit the target again (12’).
OL’s concerns quickly subsided. Like so often in their reign over the French game, the quintuple French champs had the magic right-boot of Juninho to thanks. Following a foul from Lorik Cana on Sidney Govou, the Brazilian fired home his free-kick from the edge of the area (21’).
Lyon gained the upper hand as the OM attacks were blunted against a Lyon backline led by the irreproachable Cris.
The Vélodrome crowd fell silent under the overwhelming pressure as the visitors ensconced themselves in the Marseille half. Govou fired just wide after a brilliant run, reminiscent of his goal against Istres in 2004-05 (30’). Florent Malouda’s powerful effort from just inside the corner of the box then found the strong left-hand of Carrasso (37’). The OM ‘keeper then boxed away another Juninho free-kick (37’) before Malouda headed just wide (38’).
Having weathered the worst of the OL storm, and thanking their lucky stars at the solitary goal deficit, Marseille fought back just before the break. But without success. Cana’s header came back off the crossbar (40’) and a red wall repelled Niang’s effort from six metres out (42’). The only negative note for the champions was the exit of Fred on 27 minutes, replaced by Karim Benzema (25’).
Like so often this season, Lyon profited from the start of the second half to finish the game as a contest. Govou addressed a perfect cross from the right for Benzema who, unmarked at the back post, gave Carrasso no chance (48’). Thanks to that superb left-footed volley, the France Under-21 international continued his brilliant start to the season with his sixth goal in all competitions.
And things were only going to get worse for the Vélodrome faithful. The justified expulsion of Taiwo, guilty of leaving his studs in the back of Malouda, certainly didn’t help his side out (56’).
Despite this latest handicap and the fact that Lyon are yet to concede two goals in a single game this season, Les Marseillais valiantly went on the attack. Niang shot across the face (64’), Cris denied Cana (62’) and then Niang (65’). And then a refereeing mistake would allow the hosts back into the game, albeit momentarily. Bamogo, offside after a Ribéry pass, gave the locals hope (70’).
A hope that was quickly extinguished, Juninho single-handedly doing the damage. Having seen his free-kick turned aside by Carrasso, he beat the OM shot stopper for a second time at the end of a sumptuous move involving Benzema and Jérémy Toulalan (77’). Benzema failed to imitate his captain with a one-on-one minutes later (82’) but Källström was on hand to cap of the evening in style. After a clearance from Carrosso straight at Alou Diarra, the Swede was on hand to pass the ball into an empty net (86’).
Thanks to that win, the French champions won their 11th successive match, including eight in the League and break clear at the top of the ladder. Eight points now separate Lyon from their evening’s victims. At the end of Week 10, Lyon are taking on monumental proportions within the national game. In their quest for a sixth consecutive Ligue 1 crown, they are advancing, inexorably towards the summit.