Honours even in summit clash
Just 24 hours before France's footballing community fixes its gaze on the 15th League Cup final at the Stade de France, Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain raised the curtain on a decisive weekend of football with a heart-stopping draw at the Stade Gerland which, in the end, suited neither side...
Friday April 24 2009
Olympique Lyonnais / Paris Saint-Germain : 0 - 0
Lyon coach Claude Puel made two three changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Bordeaux last weekend, bringing François Clerc at right back and wingers Miralem Pjanic and Anthony Mounier in support of Karim Benzema in attack.
Lyon wrestled control
But it was the visitors from the French capital that had the better of the opening exchanges with Ludovic Giuly partnering Guillaume Hoarau in attack and Benin international Stéphane Sessegnon providing the ammunition from the right flank.
Paul Le Guen's side failed to create a clear-cut opening however, and Lyon slowly wrestled control of a scoreless first-half.
The home side, who had won just two matches at the Stade Gerland in 2009, upped the pressure at the start of the second period and only a courageous piece of 'keeping from Parisian custodian Mickaël Landreau, to deny Kim Källström and then save at the feet of Cris, kept the visitors on a level footing.
Paris, forced onto the back foot, looked to hit on the counterattack. Club top scorer, with 17 goals, Hoarau had PSG's best chance just before the hour mark as he was set clean through on goal by Marcos Ceará, only to lose his one-on-one with Hugo Lloris in the hosts' goal.
In a tense finale, both sides had chances to land the knockout blow. Lyon fans thought their dreams of an eighth consecutive Ligue 1 title were intact when Karim Benzema beat Landreau with five minutes left to play, but last season's Ligue 1 top scorer saw his effort come back of the woodwork!
The pulsating finish failed to find a winner and the 0-0 result suits leaders Marseille who play away to Lille on Sunday night knowing that a win will send them five points clear of second-placed Bordeaux, who play Rennes on Wednesday, and six points ahead of the champions Lyon with just five rounds left to play.