OL had to dig deep very deep in the huge clash against the leaders, but emerged victorious thanks to their team spirit, another excellent Antony Lopes and a moment of magic from Yohann Gourcuff... A fantastic match... and Lyon into the top three...
It was the weekend's huge clash between leaders OM, on the back of eight straight wins, and fourth-placed OL, undefeated in their last six outings... A another win for OM would send them seven points clear of second-placed Paris. A win for OL and they would climb into the top three, just a point behind the Parisians and five adrift of Marseille. So would Marseille skip clear? Or would they be reeled in?
Neither coach did much to hide their intentions during the week, with both declaring they wouldn't be changing their regular starting XIs for the game. OL started in their traditional 4-4-2 diamond formation and OM in their 3-3-3-1 to deal with OL's twin strikers in attack. One of Hubert Fournier's plans of attack was to see his side stay in the game as long as possible to try and benefit from any fatique in the ranks of the OM side that sometimes struggles to finish off its matches...
It was a frantic start to the game with OL pressing very high up the pitch, looking to prevent OM having the time to play the ball out of defence. It was a lively opening, without either side creating real chances, but there was still planet of intensity and a number of fouls awarded by the referee: 15 in the first 20 minutes and two yellow cards to OM! André Ayew then brought the best of Lopes before Thauvin was within a whisker of getting on the end of Payet cross. OM came right back into the game after a difficult opening 25 minutes. The match evened up considerably and it remained an intense match of football as the whistle brought a close to a scoreless first half. It was an intriguing physical and tactical battle...
A Gourcuff free-kick caused a little panic in Mandanda's penalty box shortly after the restart. Gignac got his first shot of the evening on target… OM looked dangerous, winning back possession higher up the pitch. Lopes was saved by his left-hand upright! OM had taken control. On the hour mark, Njie replaced Fékir. Lopes then produced an exceptional save to deny Ayew (61')… OL were hanging on. OL dug deep and Lacazette released Gourcuff who scored a fantastic, beautiful goal. Genius! Morel made way for Alessandrini. OM looked for a way back into the game. OL hit on the counterattack. OL had one last chance with Mandanda saving from Njie before the final whistle blew...
OL continue their climb back up the ladder. Les Lyonnais showed what they were capable of in their current form with an excellent display in a quality, intense match of football. OL extended their undefeated run to seven games and brought OM's run to a halt, inflicting a first away defeat of the campaign on Marseille.
Stade de Gerland, Lyon; 39,000 spectators; Referee: M.Jaffredo. OL 1-0 OM (H-T 0-0)
OL: Lopes – Jallet, Bisevac, Umtiti, Bedimo – Gonalons (c), Ferri (Mvuemba 77'), Tolisso, Gourcuff (Malbranque 84') – Lacazette, Fékir (Njie 59'). Coach: Fournier.
OM: Mandanda (c) – Romao, Nkoulou, Morel (Alessandrini 72') – Djadjedje (Lemina 34'), Imbula, Mendy – Thauvin, Payet (Barrada 77'), A. Ayew – Gignac. Coach: Bielsa.
Goal: Gourcuff 65'
Bookings: Morel (OM) 7', Romao (OM) 21', Bisevac (OL) 48', Ayew (OM) 73'