Lyon fall heavily as FC Astra take an option
Despite Steed Malbranque's opener, a red card, a penalty and a fresh injury for Clément Grenier saw OL collapse in the second half and lose 2-1 to FC Astra, leaving them with a huge task in the return leg in Romania next week.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
UEFA Europa League, play-off round
Stade de Gerland, Lyon
Olympique Lyonnais 1 - 2 FC Astra
Before the match, OL boss Hubert Fournier was confident his men could get the job done faced in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie with FC Astra, and while the hosts capped their first-half domination with a splendid goal from fit-again midfielder Malbranque (25'), the scene changed dramatically after the hour-mark.
Fatai hits back
Working the overlap in fine style, newly signed right-back Christophe Jallet found Mohammed Yattara on the right, and the OL youth academy graduate cut the ball back to the edge of the area for Malbranque to lash his low drive just inside the base of the far post (25').
However, FC Astra were unfazed by the calibre of their opponents and played a canny counter-attacking style that yielded just a few half-chances in the first term but paid dividends in the second. A long pass from defence found the dangerous Garbiel Enache, who sent his low cross around the back-tracking Bakary Koné for Nigeria U-23 striker Kehinde Fatia to bundle home at the far post (71').
The nightmare begins
However, the equaliser was just the beginning of OL's troubles, and as Astra piled on the pressure, new signing Lindsay Rose earned a second yellow card and his marching orders (78'). A man down, OL's grip on the match continued to wane and just minutes later substitute Clément Grenier - in his appearance since late July following a groin injury - fouled William Amorim in the area.
Astra captain Constantin Budescu duly tucked home the resulting spot-kick to send his side into a shock 2-1 lead (81'), and while Koné managed to hit the bar with a header (90'+1) and Grenier drew a desperate save from Silviu Lung with a shot from range (90'+3) as OL looked desperately for an equaliser, there was no up-turn in OL's fortunes before the final whistle.
In fact, with Grenier hobbling off the pitch with a recurrence of his groin injury that will see him undergo surgery, Lyon's task of overturning the shock result and claiming a place in the Europa League group stage in Romania next Thursday got even tougher.