Olympique Lyon staged an
astonishing fightback to earn a 7-1 win at 10-man Dinamo Zagreb
in their Champions League Group D match on Wednesday and reach
the knockout stage of the competition.
The French side went through after Ajax Amsterdam, who
started the night three points ahead of them with a vastly
superior goal difference, were beaten 3-0 at home by group
winners Real Madrid.
Lyon's challenge looked all but over when they fell behind
to a Mateo Kovavic goal in the 40th minute, after Dinamo had
their midfielder Jerko Leko sent off for a second bookable foul
midway through the first half.
But the French side's striker Bafetimbi Gomis led their
revival with four goals, with Maxime Gonalons, Lisandro Lopez
and Jimmy Briand netting the other three to send them into the
last 16 of Europe's premier club competition.
Gomis's first three goals in the space of seven minutes
either side of half-time are a Champions League hat-trick record.
"The game took an unbelievable turn after the interval and
it all happened so quickly in the second half that we didn't
really have time to follow whether the result in Amsterdam was
going our way," Lyon manager Remi Garde told a news conference.
"We knew at half-time Ajax were 2-0 down and that gave us the
strength to believe that we could do the impossible and overhaul
them to the runners-up spot on goal difference," he said.
Gomis bundled in the equaliser on the stroke of half-time and
the floodgates opened after the break as Lyon, who fielded a
4-3-3 formation with Briand and Alexandre Lacazette up front
alongside the robust striker, came out with all guns blazing.
They needed just six minutes to haul themselves back into
the hunt for a berth in the knockout stage with three simple
goals as Dinamo's numerical disadvantage in freezing weather
started to bite.
Gonalons steered home a corner which was nodded into his
path in the 48th minute before Briand robbed a defender of the
ball almost straight from the restart and squared it for Gomis
to hit the empty net from 13 metres.
Gomis was on target again in the 51st minute after Aly
Cissokho raced down the left flank and delivered a sharp low
cross which the galvanised hitman tapped in from close range.
Lyon's incessant pressure carved out another chance for
Gomis on the hour, when he hit the post with an acrobatic
volley, before second half substitute Lisandro made it 5-1 with
a clinical finish in the 64th minute.
Man of the match Gomis scored his fourth just five minutes
later, side-footing yet another superb cross by Cissokho into
the top left corner past the despairing reach of Ivan Kelava.
Briand then made it 7-1 when he placed the ball past Kelava
from the edge of the penalty area after a defence-splitting pass
from the halfway line put him through.
Jubilant Lyon players and Garde celebrated their biggest
Champions League win while Dinamo were jeered off the pitch by
angry home fans after suffering their heaviest defeat in all
"Of course we are absolutely delighted to have earned a
berth in the last 16 and it was very difficult for Dinamo to
keep their spirit up after conceding so many goals in such a
short period of time," Garde said.
His counterpart Krunoslav Jurcic acknowledged Dinamo had a
long way to go if they are to become a competitive Champions
"We are a very young team and this was the first time any of
these players have been involved in the Champions league, so we
obviously have a lot to learn," he said.
"It's a very painful defeat but if we take it the right way
we will benefit in the long term because it is now apparent how
hard we have to work in order to improve and be more competitive
the next time we qualify."
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