Lyon restore pride in thrilling all-French affair
With many eyes focused on Tuesday's more glamorous clash between Bayern Munich and Manchester United, won 2-1 by the German side, the French teams offered an exciting, free-flowing contest on the Gerland pitch.
Lyon won the game 3-1 courtesy of two goals from Argentine Lisandro Lopez but also thanks to shaky defending by their visitors and great saves from France keeper Hugo Lloris, taking a clear advantage into the second leg in Bordeaux next week.
There was plenty at stake for Lyon, who had won seven Ligue 1 titles in succession before surrendering their crown to Bordeaux last year, and they used the match to show their rivals they could still teach them a thing or two.
"It was a spectacular game with a good result for Lyon," Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, whose side stunned heavyweights Real Madrid in the previous round, told reporters.
"It was really a high quality match with both sides looking for a knockout and plenty of goals."
Aulas, who used his entrepreneurial skills to turn Lyon from a sleepy provincial outfit into the measure of all things in France, thought the second leg would be equally as exciting.
"We will go to Bordeaux to score," he added. "We could witness another great match there as well."
While shining in Europe, Bordeaux have slowed down significantly in domestic action since the start of the year.
Although they still top the standings with two games in hand, they now have several sides breathing hard down their necks, among them Lyon.
Ironically, they played better on Tuesday than they had for a while but Lyon's greater experience made the difference.
There is also a question mark over Bordeaux's ability to handle big matches, already raised when they lost 3-1 to Olympique Marseille in the French League Cup final on Saturday.
"It's a long time since I hadn't seen Bordeaux play that well," Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc told reporters.
"But we were too nervous at the back and that was the problem. We're a young team. We still need to gain experience."
Blanc can take encouragement from the fact that Lyon will miss Lisandro and fellow forward Sidney Govou through suspensions for the return leg.
Bordeaux, meanwhile, will welcome back their captain and holding midfielder Alou Diarra, who served suspension on Tuesday.
"We will have opportunities to score, I'm sure, so what we have to concentrate on is how we defend," Blanc said.
The most likely scenario, however, is for Lyon to advance to the last four of European club football's showpiece event for the first time and take on Bayern or United for a place in the final.
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