OL ASSE DERBY DEMBELE AOUAR PAQUETA
Match Reports

Lyon take derby bragging rights

Publish on 21/01/2022 at 22:56 - L.DAVEY

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A first-half Moussa Dembélé penalty was enough for Lyon to edge out neighbours Saint-Étienne 1-0, at the Groupama Stadium on Friday evening.

Lyon 1-0 Saint-Étienne

THE MATCH

Le derby. A game like few others in French football and despite both Lyon and Saint-Étienne kicking off the clash in the bottom-half of the table - for the first time in top-flight derby history - there was still plenty at stake for the Rhône rivals.

The two coaches on show, Peter Bosz of Lyon and Saint-Étienne's Pascal Dupraz, renewed acquaintances from their time as teammates at Toulon during the 1988-89 season.

Lyon started on the front foot. Bosz opted for a back three, releasing wing-backs Leo Dubois and Henrique and it was the France international who found joy early on, getting in-behind Les Verts back line.

Despite coming into the game on the back of a six-game losing run, Dupraz described the game as the 'unmissable derby of France' and the 59-year-old probably wished he had turned his head when defender Timothée Kolodziejczak clumsily upended Moussa Dembélé to concede an early penalty.

Deadlock broken

Dembélé was in no mood to let the arch rivals off the hook and he coolly sent Paul Bernadoni the wrong way from 12-yards to draw first blood (15').

The goal brought the 5,000 Lyon fans in attendance to their feet as they tried desperately to provide some of the vibrancy from the stands that is synonymous with this fiery fixture.

Saint-Étienne’s disciplined game plan had gone out of the window and Les Verts were forced to show some metal, not only for the possibility of salvaging something from the game but for the opportunity of denying Les Gones the chance to add their name to Sainté's ever-expanding list of league defeaters.  

In the absence of Saint-Étienne's talismanic striker Wahbi Khazri (AFCON), it was Arnaud Nordin who looked most likely on the break and he reminded the hosts of his threat, outpacing Lyon's back line but to no avail on this occasion (19').

Lyon controlled the tempo of the game without offering any immediate goal threat with the in-form Bruno Guimaraes and Lucas Paqueta busy in advanced areas. 

A section of the Lyon support had made their demands to the club's players earlier this week with a banner which read 'finish them' in relation to Les Verts precarious league position. But in truth, OL were doing anything but that, even when presented with the chance to deliver a knockout blow whilst Dupraz's men were on the ropes. 

Houssem Aouar, scorer for OL in the reverse fixture in October, could and should have extended the hosts advantage but his tame effort from ten-yards was palmed away by Bernadoni (38').

Out of nothing, Saint-Étienne midfielder Zaydou Youssouf crossed for Mahdi Camara whose header was superbly saved by Lyon 'keeper Anthony Lopes (42').

Saint-Étienne began the second half in confident fashion and increased the intensity in their play, with better ball retention and more purpose in their attacking play.

Bernadoni's heroics

But it was Lyon, and that man Aouar who once again missed a huge chance to see off Dupraz's men on the counter, when Bernadoni denied the 23-year-old, with the goal gaping (56').

Aouar's effort brought the second half to life and as the game became stretched, and for a short period, both teams looked as likely as each other to find the all-important next goal. Lyon substitute Tino Kadewere was next to be thwarted by Bernadoni when his close-range effort was superbly saved by the on-loan shot-stopper (73').

Five-minutes later Lucas Paqueta shot high and over when teed up by the dangerous Aouar. Lyon's inability to finish off the visitors did not present the danger to Bosz's side that it should have, due to Saint-Etienne’s lack of attacking threat.

Lyon were able to comfortably see out the game to provisionally move up to tenth on the table, whilst Les Verts remain at the foot of Ligue 1 Uber Eats.

THE PLAYER: Paul Bernadoni

Without the inclusion of the 24-year-old goalkeeper, the score line could well have been much different. The loan signing from Angers put in a superb goalkeeping display for Saint-Étienne, denying a number of dangerous chances from Houssem Aouar and Tino Kadewere, and did not deserve to end the game on the losing side.

THE STAT: 124

Friday night’s game was the 124th derby between Lyon and Saint-Étienne. But with Saint-Étienne still propping up the league table and with new coach Pascal Dupraz without a win in his first-three league games at the helm, this could be the last derby match…for a while.

>> REACTIONS: Derby hero Dembélé: 'I practice taking penalties'

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