Just when Lyon fans thought their team’s chances of qualifying for Europe were dead and buried, they’ve been drawn back in. Laurent Blanc’s men had started the matchday 36 opener in the worst possible way, but a technical demonstration from their academy graduates – from two separate generations – saw them complete a spirited comeback.
Wissam Ben Yedder would waste no time in making an impact on his return to the starting lineup after two weeks on the sidelines. The veteran broke through on kick-off and drew a penalty from Anthony Lopes after just 13 seconds of play, before duly dispatching past the Portugal goalkeeper from the spot.
It was his opposite number in Alexandre Lacazette who would pull the strings as the hosts from then on, though – his hold-up play and pressing as good as his teammates’ decision making was poor. The former Arsenal man would eventually find the net for his 26th of the campaign, slotting home after some tenacious work from Bradley Barcola on the wing. The goal came at a fitting time, as two academy products combined just as the home fans were paying tribute, on 36 minutes, to Jean-Michel Aulas’ 36-year reign as president, which came to an end last week.
Lacazette’s tireless work across the frontline proved the foundation of Lyon’s success, but it was Rayan Cherki’s outrageous technical ability that allowed the hosts to see their dominance materialise. The midfielder first set up his team’s second with a casual roulette in the box, before an outside-of-the-boot shot was parried into Maxence Caqueret’s path for a straightforward finish. He would make no mistake for the third, though – cutting inside from the right to double the lead with a curled finish inside the far post.
Last week, Blanc had declared that Lyon’s chances of Europe were all but over – now, with a game in hand, they sit just one point off fifth-place Rennes.
Lyon player ratings
Anthony Lopes, 7 – Conceded a penalty early on (in record time, even) with a characteristically reckless rush from his goal, but made up for it throughout the rest of the game with some impressive reflex saves. Won his battle against Ben Yedder in the end.
Saël Kumbedi, 6
Sinaly Diomandé, 6
Castello Lukeba, 7
Nicolás Tagliafico, 5
Maxence Caqueret, 7
Corentin Tolisso, 6
Bradley Barcola, 6
Rayan Cherki, 8 – A sensational second half – from his roulette on Caqueret’s goal to a sweeping finish to put the game out of sight. Some muddled decision making in the first half – as has been the case in many games this season – but his talent finally spoke for itself after the break.
Alexandre Lacazette, 7 – A tireless performance from the veteran, who is now tied with Kylian Mbappé on 26 goals at the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts. Was the catalyst for the team’s comeback with his hold-up play and pressing, immediately after Monaco’s opener, inspiring his younger teammates to play more freely.
Monaco player ratings
Alexander Nübel, 5
Axel Disasi, 5
Chrislain Matsima, 4
Caio Henrique, 3
Aleksandr Golovin, 4
Youssouf Fofana, 5 – An impressive, all-action first half that saw him set up the chance that won the early penalty, as well as stopping various Lyon attacks with some effective interceptions. Faded away in the second half and looked somewhat overwhelmed by the hosts’ all-out attacking approach.
Eliot Matazo, 4
Ismail Jakobs, 3
Maghnes Akliouche, 4 – Looked somewhat disoriented and failed to really connect with his teammates, and had little impact on the game barring an early chance. Replaced by another young player in Eliesse Ben Seghir, whose influence on the game was also minimal.
Wissam Ben Yedder, 6 – An instant impact with his early penalty, and like Lacazette, led his team from the front. Replaced by Breel Embolo.
GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin