Lyon win seventh Trophée des Champions

Trophée des Champions

By A. Scott

Olympique Lyonnais lifted the Trophée des Champions for the seventh time at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday, beating Montpellier Hérault SC on penalties after coming from behind twice in the 90 minutes.


Trophée des Champions

Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey

 Montpellier Hérault SC 2–2 Olympique Lyonnais (OL won 4-2 on penalties)

Jimmy Briand was the hero for OL, scoring his side's second equaliser and then netting the crucial penalty in the shoot-out as the Coupe de France holders started the new season with a fresh piece of silverware. It is the seventh time in 11 years that Lyon have won the traditional curtain-raiser to the French season, and the success will do Rémi Garde's side the power of good after what has been a difficult summer.

But the defeat was a missed opportunity for Montpellier, who led twice through a John Utaka strike and then a penalty from debutant Emanuel Herrera, only to be pegged back on each occasion, with Bafétimbi Gomis and Briand finding the net for Lyon. Lyon also missed their opening kick in the shoot-out when Gueida Fofana saw his effort saved by Geoffrey Jourdren, but more heroics from Hugo Lloris, who saved from Gaetan Charbonnier and Henri Bedimo, set Lyon up for victory.

It may not have been quite as crazy as Marseille's 5-4 win against Lille in Tangier, Morocco, 12 months ago, but this was still an enjoyable occasion, especially in the second half, for the crowd at the home of the New York Red Bulls. Traffic problems meant there were a lot of empty spaces inside the 25,000-capacity venue when the game kicked off at 1500 local time, but the stadium was much fuller for a cracking second half and the subsequent penalty shoot-out.

Lisandro missing for OL

With Lisandro López missing because of a calf injury, midfielder Maxime Gonalons captained Lyon, who came into this game as underdogs against a confident Montpellier side. René Girard's men were missing two of their most important players from their title-winning season, with Younes Belhanda suspended and Olivier Giroud having departed for Arsenal. But Daniel Congre, Anthony Mounier and Herrera all made their debuts on a cloudy but hot afternoon in New Jersey.

Montpellier started the better of the two sides, and deserved their opening goal when it arrived just before the half-hour mark. Utaka broke in from the left and got a lucky ricochet off Fofana before beating Lloris with a well-struck shot from point-blank range.

Mounier, who started his career at Lyon before joining Nice, fired over soon after, but Lyon remained a threat and Fofana flashed a warning shot just wide at the other end. OL then drew level with a minute of the first half remaining when Gomis got in between Vitorino Hilton and Bedimo to head home a Yoann Gourcuff cross from wide on the left.  

For all Lyon's threat going forward, they remain susceptible at the back, and they found themselves trailing again ten minutes after the restart. Gomis was penalised when a Marco Estrada free-kick struck his arm inside the area as he jumped with the wall, and Herrera sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot.  

Estrada off

That looked to be that, especially after Fofana fired just over from 20 yards from a Gourcuff cut-back, but then Alexandre Lacazette picked out an unmarked Briand, who volleyed home to make it 2-2 13 minutes from time. Montpellier were then reduced to ten men when Estrada was sent off for a nasty challenge on young substitute Yassine Benzia, and Montpellier were suddenly holding on.

Lacazette failed to hit the target with the goal gaping, and Briand hit the post with an acrobatic volleyed effort, but Briand kept his cool in the shoot-out to ensure that OL would be taking the trophy back to the Stade de Gerland.

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