Champions League - Seventh heaven for Lyon

Wed, 07 Dec 22:00:00 2011

Lyon staged an astonishing fightback to earn a 7-1 win at Dinamo Zagreb in their Champions League Group D match and reach the knockout stage of the competition.

Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis (L) challenges Fatos Beqiraj (R) of Dinamo Zagreb during their Champions League Group D soccer match at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb - 0

The French side went through after Ajax, who started the night three points ahead of them with a vastly superior goal difference, were beaten 3-0 at home by group winners Real Madrid.

Lyon fell behind in the 40th minute to 10-man Dinamo, who had midfielder Jerko Leko sent off for a second bookable foul midway through the first half, before striker Batefimbi Gomis scored four goals to lead their charge into the last 16.

Maxime Gonalons, Lisandro Lopez and Jimmy Briand netted Lyon's other goals to inflict the heaviest defeat for Dinamo in European competition, leaving the Croatian champions rooted to the bottom of the group with no points from six games.

Needing an emphatic win to give themselves a realistic chance of going through to the last 16, Lyon came out in an attacking 4-3-3 formation with Briand and Alexandre Lacazette alongside Gomis up front.

Plenty of empty seats in the Maksimir stadium and freezing weather only galvanised both teams to produce an entertaining first half, with both goalkeepers pulling off several fine saves in the opening stages.

Dinamo's Ivan Kelava was let off the hook when Briand chipped his shot wide of the far post in the 15th minute, before he denied Lacazette and former team mate Dejan Lovren.

Kelava's opposite number Hugo Lloris kept out stinging shots from Fatos Beqiraj and Luis Ibanez at the other end but was powerless when Dinamo took a 40th-minute lead through 17-year old midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

Lloris did superbly to parry a pair of close-range shots from Beqiraj but the second rebound fell kindly for Kovacic, who slid in ahead of a defender and buried the ball into the roof of the net.

Lyon piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and drew level on the stroke of halftime, when Gomis bundled the ball over the line after Aly Cissokho's deflected cross sailed over the stranded Kelava.

Lyon then came charging out after the interval and reinvigorated their hopes with three quickfire goals in six minutes early in the second half.

Gonalons steered home a corner which was nodded into his path in the 47th minute before Briand robbed a defender of the ball almost straight from the restart and squared it for Gomis to hit the empty net from 13 metres.

Gomis was on target again in the 51st minute after Cissokho raced down the left flank and delivered a sharp low cross which the robust hitman tapped in from close range.

Lyon's incessant pressure carved out another chance for Gomis on the hour, when he hit the post with an acrobatic volley, before second half substitute Lisandro made it 5-1 with a clinical finish in the 64th minute.

Man of the match Gomis scored his fourth just five minutes later, side-footing yet another superb cross by Cissokho into the top left corner past the despairing reach of Kelava.

Briand then made it 7-1 when he placed the ball past Kelava from the edge of the penalty area after a defence-splitting pass from the halfway line put him through.

Reuters

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