Champions League

Lacazette gives Lyon edge

2012-02-15 06:47
Alexandre Lacazette (AFP)

Lyon - Lyon secured a slender advantage in their Champions League last 16 tie with APOEL FC by beating the Cypriot underdogs 1-0 in the first leg at Stade Gerland on Tuesday.

APOEL are the first team from Cyprus to reach the knockout rounds and they defended stoutly in front of over 4 000 travelling supporters but were undone by an Alexandre Lacazette goal shortly before the hour.

Lacazette's strike, allied to what was only a second clean sheet in their last 12 games, puts Lyon in a commanding position to reach the quarter-finals prior to the second leg on March 7.

"The result gives us a chance to secure qualification in Nicosia," said Lyon coach Remi Garde, whose side enjoyed 64 percent of possession.

"We would have preferred to score a second goal and push APOEL further back. But I'm not disappointed because we did the maximum against a side that has caused problems for other teams.

"We found a way to goal without conceding a goal, which is very important."

APOEL had created the sensation of the group phase by finished ahead of Zenit Saint Petersburg, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk and their Serbian coach Ivan Jovanovic refused to concede defeat.

"It's a very good result for Lyon, of course, and they have a big advantage," he said. "But from our perspective, we'll try to play better, so why can't we still go through?"

APOEL had charted their way through Group G by sitting deep and picking their opponents off on the break, and they stuck to their game plan in a first half that kicked off to a backdrop of glowing flares in the away end.

Lyon met APOEL's conservatism with a cautious 4-2-3-1 formation that relegated Bafetimbi Gomis, their top scorer in the competition, to the bench, and OL toiled to find gaps in the visiting defence.

Ederson, Michel Bastos and Lisandro Lopez had all tried their luck with shots from varying range before Lacazette procured the first sight of goal on the half hour, cutting inside defender Kaka but shooting wastefully over.

It was Lacazette who drew the first save from goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis as well, with a snap-shot from the right-hand apex of the area that the 34-year-old Greek palmed away.

Lyon almost caught their opponents cold in the opening moments of the second period, with Ederson breaking through and rounding Chiotis, only for his goal-bound shot to be blocked by a sliding Paulo Jorge.

The visitors would not survive another scare, however, and in the 58th minute the goal arrived with Cris at its unlikely source.

The Lyon captain strolled into the APOEL area before touching the ball left for Lacazette, who cut inside and beat Chiotis with a rasping shot that took a deflection off Paulo Jorge.

Chiotis saved from Bastos at his near post immediately afterwards, but the storm passed and Garde was obliged to introduce Yoann Gourcuff to help his side hold on to possession and keep their opponents at arm's length.

There was one, late scare for Lyon, but substitute Gustavo Manduca's rising drive met its match in a finger-tip save from the otherwise untroubled Hugo Lloris.


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