The final scoreline was comfortable, but the match itself was anything but. For the second time in a week, OL Féminin left the scoring until late, but three late goals from Eugénie Le Sommer helped the team maintain their perfect record in D1 Féminine.
After a tough midweek Champions League battle with Avaldsnes, Coach Reynald Pedros opted to rotate his squad for the third D1F match of the season. Backup goalkeeper Lisa Weiß got the start, with Carolin Simon, Kadeisha Buchanan, Izzy Christiansen, and Emelyne Laurent rounding out the changes from Wednesday’s starting XI.
The first half was forgettable. Right from the start, Guingamp showed they had no intention of adopting the defense-first strategy that Lyon often sees from its D1F opponents. Les Guingampaises put pressure on OL, forcing turnovers and punishing the favorites for their uncharacteristically slow decisionmaking and lack of movement. The team looked below par technically, with too many passes missing their mark and too many one-on-one battles going the way of the home side. And so, for the second time this week, Lyon went to the locker rooms with the score 0-0 at the half.
Pedros almost certainly read his squad the riot act at the pause, and OL came out with better intentions in the second half. The team’s ball movement was much improved, and third-string France keeper Solène Durand suddenly found herself busier between the posts for Guingamp.
The breakthrough came in the 67th minute. Christiansen swung a dangerous ball into the box on a free kick that bounced around dangerously before a Guingamp player was able to clear. The long clearance was recovered by Lucy Bronze in Lyon’s defensive half, and Bronze sent it right back where it came from. Le Sommer arrived a split second before Durand and nudged the ball past the Guingamp keeper and into the back of the net for her first goal of the season.
The 1-0 lead came as a huge relief to the Lyon faithful. With a goal already up on the board, OL proceeded to take advantage of a rapidly fatiguing Guingamp side. Just four minutes after her opener, Le Sommer doubled her tally on the year. Quick movement down the right side from Bronze to Christiansen to Le Sommer left the French striker alone with the keeper, and she didn’t miss.
Le Sommer wasn’t done yet. With Lyon firmly on the front foot and Ada Hegerberg subbed out for Selma Bacha, Le Sommer roamed through the Guingamp defense creating dangerous chances. She was rewarded with a hat trick in the 86th minute thanks to a neat finish and great service from Amandine Henry, who bulldozed through two Guingamp defenders to pick up the assist.
The 3-0 final hardly captures the stress of yet another game in which Lyon’s trademark dominance was absent for long stretches. The first 45 minutes were troubling, but there were positives to take away from the second half. The team was able to correct many of its earlier technical deficiencies and returned to the rapid, one-touch ball movement that so often allows the squad to pick apart defenses. And the entry of Saki Kumagai and Shanice van de Sanden helped kick OL into gear. But there is still work to be done to prompt quicker decisionmaking in the box and to get Hegerberg more involved.
There are no points for originality in handing out Player of the Match honors when one player records a game-saving hat trick, so Le Sommer it is. The French striker had an excellent preseason, racking up 8 goals in 5 games, but she started the regular season quietly, held off the score sheet in Lyon’s first three games across all competitions. So often with great goal scorers, though, it just takes one to open the floodgates, so now that Eugénie has her first three goals on the board, we hope to see more coming in bunches.
Checking in on action around the league: PSG beat up on Soyaux 6-0, and Bordeaux rolled onward with a 2-0 win over Rodez. Montpellier dropped their second game in a row, losing 1-0 to Fleury and confirming that 3rd place is very much up for grabs this year. Dijon cruised past Metz with a 3-0 win, and Paris FC and Lille played to a scoreless draw.
Lyon return home to face Paris FC on Saturday, September 22 at 14:30 local time (8:30 a.m. ET). Paris FC opened the season with a win over Guingamp, but have since lost their scoring touch with just one goal in their last two games. Last season, PFC scored twice against Lyon at the Groupama OL Training Center, albeit in a 9-2 losing effort. Lyon will hope for a comfortable match ahead of their Champions League return leg against Avaldsnes on September 27.
[Top photo via F. Chambert/Le Progres; in-line photo via Maya Mans]