laboured against a resolute APOEL Nicosia before a second-half
goal from the lively Alexandre Lacazette earned them a 1-0 home
win in their Champions League last 16 first leg on Tuesday.
France Under-21 striker Lacazette netted his maiden
Champions League goal in the 58th minute as Lyon, who only made
this stage for the ninth straight time after a 7-1 thrashing of
Dinamo Zagreb, gained a victory they just about deserved.
APOEL, the first Cypriot team to reach the last 16 having
topped a group featuring Zenit St Petersburg, Shakhtar Donetsk
and Porto, had little to show for themselves offensively as they
waited for the perfect counter-attack that never materialised.
"We expected this kind of game but I wish we had been more
efficient. I now hope we will not regret it after the second
leg," Lyon coach Remi Garde, whose side lost 2-1 at home to
lowly Caen on Saturday, told France's Canal+ TV .
"They were supposed to have chances on counter-attacks and
they did not get any, it's because we also defended well."
Lyon, who will travel to Cyprus for the second leg on March
7, could have gone ahead early on but were denied a possible
penalty in the third minute after Ederson appeared to have been
brought down by goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis in the box.
The hosts piled on the pressure thereafter but APOEL held on
thanks to their stout defence.
Lacazette dribbled past two defenders on the half-hour mark
but fired wide with only Chiotis left to beat.
The forward had another chance five minutes before the break
but his fierce shot was clawed away by Chiotis.
The second half started like the first one ended, with Lyon
pushing hard for the opener.
Ederson dribbled past Chiotis, slotted the ball towards the
empty net only for Paulo Jorge to clear off his line.
Lacazette finally broke the deadlock when his curled shot
took a deflection off an APOEL defender into the far top corner.
"I was asked by the coach and my partners to take my
responsibilities and to try a lot of things, that's what I did,"
said the goal-scorer, one of a bunch of youngsters being blooded
this term by Garde.
Jimmy Briand, who replaced Lacazette right after his goal,
sent over a perfect cross but Ederson's header went just wide as
Lyon missed out a golden opportunity to double the tally.
APOEL had their only chance with two minutes left but France
goalkeeper Hugo Lloris tipped an Esteban Solari attempt over the bar
with his only actual save of the night.
The Cypriots have been the surprise packages of the
competition this year having been rank outsiders but their
strong defence will have to be combined with more of an
attacking threat in Nicosia if their fairytale can continue.
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