Lyon welcomed Rennes to the Groupama Stadium on Easter Sunday with the home side keen to put a disappointing French Cup semi-final defeat to Nantes behind them. Despite an indifferent patch of form, Rennes sit in 6th position – firmly in the hunt for European football.
OL: Lopes; Kumbedi, Diomande, Lukeba, Tagliafico; Tolisso, Lepenant, Caqueret, Cherki; Barcola, Lacazette
REN: Alemdar; Meling, Theatre, Omari, Traoré; Ugochukwu, Santamaria; Gouiri, Bourigeaud, Majer; Kalimuendo
A threatening start from Rennes was rewarded in the 11th minute as former Lyon man Amine Gouiri lashed the ball past Lopes following a cheap loss of possession in the Lyon box – the Frenchman’s wicked strike gave the visitors a deserved lead. Rennes continued to move the ball well following the opening goal, with the away side making it difficult for Lyon to get a foothold in the match. A mix up in the Lyon back line following a jinking run from the dangerous Gouiri allowed Bourigeaud to fire a shot into the side netting, and it was fair to say that Laurent Blanc’s men far from their best in the opening half hour.
A strong run from Lacazette in the 34th minute ended in a deflected header over Turkish youngster Alemdars’ crossbar. Former Arsenal striker Lacazette was beginning to showing his quality – the subsequent corner was dealt with effectively by the away side. The closing stages of the first half saw Lyon increase the intensity, and Rayan Cherki was unfortunate to see his smart piece of wing play amount to nothing. Referee Benoît Bastien brought the first half to a close amidst clear discontent being voiced from the Lyon faithful. Rennes were fully deserving of their slender advantage.
Lyon started the second half brightly with Cherki posing a threat in a free role behind the Lyon frontmen. Lacazette continued to hold the ball up expertly – his intricate play with Cherki allowed Lyon to retain possession deep in Rennes territory. Lyon’s second half pressure was too much for Rennes as Corentin Tolisso’s wonderstrike in the 60th minute levelled the scoring. A Lyon corner was cleared as far Tolisso who steadied himself before firing a crisp strike into the top right hand corner – and there was nothing that Alemdar could do to repel the effort.
With the home side in the ascendancy – they continued to push for the goal that would put them ahead. That goal arrived through dangerman Lacazette in the 68th minute. A sliced effort from Lepenant fell at the feet of Lacazette who finished confidently first time. The comeback complete for the home side who had dominated since the resumption of play.
A dominant second half display from Lyon was wrapped up in fine fashion as a Bradley Barcola strike in the 79th minute looked to have secured the points for the hosts. A fantastic run from Cherki resulted in a cut back across the box finding the unmarked Barcola who stroked the ball home to put Lyon 3-1 ahead.
Rennes looked to find a way back into the match – the introduction of Jérémy Doku providing an effective outlet on the right wing. His cut back found Bourigeaud who could only flash a shot wide of Lopes’ post. A resolute and disciplined final ten minutes from Lyon saw them close out the game relatively unchallenged.
A true game of two halves finished 3-1 to the home side – a welcome tonic following the limp cup defeat in midweek. Rennes can take heart from a positive first half performance but will be disappointed with the second half capitulation. Lyon travel to mid-table Toulouse on Friday hoping for another victory to boost their late attempt at a European finish. Rennes host Will Stills’ Reims the following day in another tricky fixture.