Lyon made the trip north to face table-toppers Paris Saint-Germain, having lost just once in their previous ten games in all competitions. Having suffered a limp 2-0 home loss to European hopefuls Rennes last time out, PSG set out with a point to prove. The French champions were once again without Brazilian superstar Neymar as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.
PSG: Donnarumma; D.Pereira, Marquinhos, Bitshiabu; Hakimi, Vitinha, Verrati, Sanches, N.Mendes; Messi, Mbappe
OL: Lopes; Kumbedi, Diomande, Lukeba, Lovren, Tagliafico; T.Mendes, Lepenant, Cherki; Sarr, Lacazette
The match kicked off under a light haze caused by the pre-match pyrotechnic show. The first chance of the game fell to PSG midfield technician Vitinha after he was found by an exquisite disguised ball across the Lyon box from Mbappe – however the midfielder’s effort floated harmlessly over the bar. An authoritative start from the hosts continued as the electric Mbappe and Lionel Messi combined with an intricate one-two, with the former lifting the ball just wide of Lopes’ goal in the eighth minute.
Lyon began to play themselves into the game and their first shot arrived through Thiago Mendes – the Brazilian firing wide after excellent centre-forward play from Alexandre Lacazette. An enforced change in the twenty-third minute saw Bradley Barcola enter the fray in place of the injured Sarr. A defence splitting pass in behind from Lyon defender Diomande saw Barcola race through one-on-one, but the young Frenchman was unfortunate to lose his footing. Lacazette reacted quickly to get a toe to the ball before being wiped out by PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – and referee Francois Letexier pointed to the spot, awarding Lyon a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the thirty ninth minute. Lacazette hauled himself up to take the spot-kick, and the experienced striker took a stuttering run-up before agonisingly firing the ball against the base of the left-hand post. The rebound fell to Lepenant who could only fire over the crossbar.
The final act of the half saw a delightful floated ball from Messi reach Nuno Mendes whose first time delivery across the six-yard-box was blocked at close range by the hand of Lovren. Lyon survived the VAR check, and deservedly headed into the break on level pegging with the Paris outfit.
Lyon continued to impress after the break and took the lead in the fifty sixth minute. Thiago Mendes was given space to loft a superb ball across the box which was met first-time by Kumbedi – who expertly picked out Barcola. The substitute found himself unmarked and finished emphatically across Donnarumma – wrong footing the Italian shotstopper.
PSG responded with a spell of pressure without managing to test Anthony Lopes in the Lyon goal. The away side stayed resolute and managed to repel everything that the Parisians threw at them. The lack of balance in the PSG side was all too clear as Lyon continued to look threatening on the counter with Barcola stinging the palms of Donnarumma in the sixty-sixth minute. A rare Lyon defensive mix-up allowed Hakimi to unleash a strike that fizzed wide of the left-hand upright, but Lyon continued to hold firm and restrict PSG to strikes from distance. A frustrating night for Kylian Mbappe was compounded when his deflected shot was acrobatically kept out by Lopes. The visitors managed the game well and held out their opponents to record a fantastic 1-0 win in the French capital.
Despite a six point lead at the top of Ligue 1, PSG manager Christophe Galtier will be feeling the pressure following their second home game in a row without finding the back of the net. A tricky away trip to Nice is up next for the champions who will be hoping that the instrumental figures of Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi can rediscover their best form. As for Lyon, a French cup semi-final awaits away at Nantes. Cup success would make for a positive season despite the club’s indifferent league campaign so far.