Lyon welcomed the Czech team of Sparta Praha to Gerland for the Europa League’s curtain-raiser. Lyon were without Bastos and Gourcuff – both injured – and Mvuemba who wasn’t signed in time to be registered. Lyon wanted to start on high at home. So far this season, Lyon had won all three matches at home, and Sparta knew they were in for a hard time.
In a match that promised much, it was Lyon who dominated right from the start. After just four minutes of play, Lacazette broke free on the right wing and Gomis could have easily opened the scoring had he aimed better. Just after ten minutes of play, it was a good link-up by Réveillère and Lacazette which provided Gomis with an excellent opportunity to put Lyon in the front seat. However, his shot never found the net. Lyon were almost surprised a couple of times as Sparta tried to launch counter-attacks and Gonalons was booked for a rash challenge, but it wasn’t until the 23rd minute that Lyon started getting serious. A weak defensive display allowed Grenier to launch Gomis away on the counter-attack in what had to be Lyon’s best chance in the first half. However, the French striker’s shot only went straight to the Sparta ‘keeper.
There was controversy shortly after when Lacazette fell down in the box, yet he was shown the yellow for a dive. Replays suggest that there was not enough contact for the youngster to fall. Shortly after the half-hour mark, Gomis was once again given a golden opportunity when he seized a through ball by Grenier, yet saw his attempted chip blocked by a sturdy Vaclík.
Lyon were forced to make their first substitution of the night when Dabo was knocked out cold after a challenge by Kadeřábek. He was booked for the foul and Dabo was stretchered off to a standing ovation by a lively OL crowd. The defender was replaced by Umtiti and taken to hospital.
In the second half, Lyon came out looking to dominate play once again. Shots by Gomis and Lisandro came close to opening the scoring and Lyon were made to rue another missed chance after ten minutes. Gonalons’ attempted shot was controlled by Gomis, who missed the target despite being in an ideal position. By now, he looked dumb-founded trying to understand what he had to do to get on the scoresheet. However, just before the hour mark, he was at it again – and this time, he didn’t miss. Grenier played in a dangerous corner and Gomis, unmarked, met the ball with his head to break the deadlock. Just two minutes after, Lyon doubled the lead when Gomis assisted Lisandro after a good feint. From close range, the Argentine didn’t have to be asked twice and put away his second goal in the last two matches.
Sparta also had their chances, especially when Jarošík headed the ball, only for Vercoutre to save it. Lyon could have made it three when Lisandro drove a low ball towards Lacazette. The youngster saw his shot saved by the goalkeeper, and on the rebound Grenier hit the post. A few minutes later, Sparta found the goal they were looking for through Krejčí. Umtiti lost his player, and a cross found the totally-unmarked Krejčí who buried the ball into the net. The same player could have equalized a few minutes later, but his long shot was just high. The last action of the match was for Malbranque, who saw his shot turned into a corner by Vaclík.
Lyon go out of the match knowing they could have done better. However, they will surely savior the three points as they climb to first place as Bilbao were held at home by Hapoel Kiryat Shmona. Lille, who went 3-1 down to BATE, now await Lyon in the sixth match-day of the Ligue 1.
Report by Nicholas Mamo @MemoNick