On a frozen pitch, the Nancéiens and the Lyonnais battled out a 1-1 sharing of the points. In the dying minutes, Malonga replied to Baros’ opener. The Lyonnais finish the first half of the league season with a 4-point lead over their opponents on the night.
The clash between the Lorrains and the Lyonnais had all the makings of a real ‘6-pointer’, the kind of match that can change the face of a season, that can set grand things in motion before the halfway point of the season is even reached. Now Pablo Correa’s men remain a respectable distance behind the reigning French champions.
However, the Lyonnais really believed that they could achieve what would have been a real coup, a great feat after Milan Baros capitalised on one of the Lyonnais’ only chances of the second half (79’). But then Malonga secured Nancy a share of the points (87’). Which made sense, considering how hard they hosts pushed. They deserved the point, having kept neck and neck with the Lyonnais throughout a hard-fought match in adverse conditions.
On the eve of the holidays, the two sides just kept on pushing forward, never sitting back and staying faithful to their principles of attacking football on a pitch at the very limit of the acceptable in terms of playability. An entire half of the pitch was frozen solid, and unsurprisingly, the game’s biggest chances came at the other end.
The matched spun slightly out of control towards the end but the Lyonnais had already had a few “warnings” towards the end of the first half when, from a Fortuné header, Rémy Vercoutre managed to grab the ball after it had bounced off his left post (45’). A stroke of luck for the OL, keeper who had already been called into some serious action, saving well from Fortuné (3’) and Hadji (11’) and seeing shots from Berenguer (19’) and Fortuné (23’) graze the posts.
OL’s biggest chance came from the feet of Karim Benzema. After a one-on-one that saw Bracigliano come out on top (6e), the OL striker couldn’t convert a long pass from Kim Källström, firing twice directly at the Lorrain keeper (22’).
After the break, the hosts at the Marcel Picot took charge of the match. In fact, the even scoreline was really a product of the lack of chances created by Alain Perrin’s men who procured just a few chances: Bodmer’s skied shot (54’), a one-on-one Baros lost to Bracigliano (63’) and then the Czech international’s goal.
But even this cool finish would have counted for nothing had Rémy Vercoutre not had a scintillating second half. The OL keeper repelled just about every shot that Nancy threw at him: Sauget’s cross-shot, which he punched clear (50’); then two efforts from Kim (50’ and 51’). Then he came up with three world-class reflex saves to deny Fortuné (62’) and then Hadji (67’ and 75’) that kept hopes of victory for Alain Perrin’s men alive until three minutes from the end. But he could do nothing to save Malonga’s shot after it deflected off François Clerc and into the net (87’).
With a 4-point lead over Nancy, the Lyonnais can calmly go off on holidays. But they’ll really need to recharge their batteries for the second half of the season, when they will be in action in all the domestic competitions as well as in Europe.