Ada Hegerberg bagged a hat trick and Lyon scored four goals from headers en route to a 5-0 victory over Paris FC on Saturday. Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry were also on the scoresheet, as OL Féminin remained flawless on the season with four wins from four and no goals conceded.
After two stressful matches in a row against Avaldsnes and Guingamp, les Fenottes (and their fans!) were ready for a comfortable victory. They found it against last year’s fourth-place finishers who have struggled out of the gate this season.
For the third time this year, Hegerberg got the scoring started early when she found the back of the net in the 11th minute with a header off a pinpoint cross from Selma Bacha. A word of advice to D1F defenses: you probably shouldn’t leave Hegerberg quite this open in the box.
Less than ten minutes later, Lyon doubled their lead, as an Izzy Christiansen free kick found the head of Renard for the captain’s first goal of the season. The team reportedly spent much of the week working to improve their efficiency on set pieces, and it was good to see an immediate payoff.
Les Fenottes weren’t about to let off the gas pedal. Having spotted a weakness, Lyon continued to feed Bacha and Amel Majri down the left, counting on their ability to contribute a well-placed cross. The strategy paid off as Amandine Henry rose above the defense to score Lyon’s third header of the match off good service from Majri, who just continues to rack up assists.
After three goals, all headers, all from good crosses from the left, Hegerberg and the gang broke the pattern in the 36th minute on Ada’s second of the match. Renard launched a deep bomb from her own half that Eugénie Le Sommer brought down perfectly on the right side. The French forward slipped a crisp low pass to Hegerberg who, yet again, was somehow all alone in the box. The Norwegian slotted it past Paris FC keeper Karima Benameur and into the back of the net.
The 4-0 lead at the half was a considerable improvement over the 0-0 scoreline in the past two matches, and it never felt like PFC was a threat to get in the game. Gaetane Thiney was invisible for large portions of the match, and any rare incursions into Lyon’s half by the Parisians fizzled out harmlessly.
When the teams returned from the break, it looked like the game might be headed towards a lopsided scoreline, as with last season’s 9-2 finish. Hegerberg secured her hat trick in the 58th minute with yet another header from a set piece, and Majri picked up her second assist of the game for the service into the box.
But the black mark on Lyon’s afternoon came ten minutes later, when Bacha was hacked down by a nasty knee-on-knee challenge from PFC’s Mathilde Bourdieu. Bacha had to be helped off the field in considerable pain. Fingers crossed that it was just a rough knock for the youngster and she can bounce back quickly.
Bourdieu only earned a yellow card for the challenge, much to the displeasure of the home fans. OL supporters haven’t forgotten that it was Florence Guillemin whose, uh, questionable decisionmaking in last year’s Coupe de France final contributed to Lyon’s 1-0 defeat, and her failure to show red to Bourdieu did little to stop them feeling aggrieved. It didn’t help that she issued a yellow to Majri just a few minutes later for a relatively innocuous bump in midfield.
With Bacha out, Coach Reynald Pedros had to shuffle his lineup, shifting Majri to the backline, subbing Emelyne Laurent into Majri’s spot up front, and introducing Eva Kouache in the midfield. The shuffle took a toll, and Lyon’s attack never looked quite as crisp or as dangerous. But PFC were well out of it by that point, and the game eased to 5-0 finish.
Pedros continues to tinker with his starting XI, opting today for a 4-3-3 with Henry, Saki Kumagai, and Christiansen in midfield, and a rare start on the right side for Majri. By the first hydration break, though, Majri and Le Sommer had swapped sides up front, and Majri went back to wreaking havoc from the left. But whether it was personnel or simply improved finishing on crosses into the box, Saturday’s OL looked much more like last year’s world beaters than they have over their past three matches.
Ada Hegerberg may be a finalist for FIFA’s The Best award to be handed out on Monday, but she takes home the week’s real prize with our Player of the Match honors. The hat trick gives her six goals in four games and is impressive enough on its own, but Ada was also active throughout the game, tracking back well defensively when needed and creating space for her teammates with good hold up play. She’ll want to keep up the momentum heading into Thursday’s Champions League action.
Elsewhere in league action Bordeaux dropped their first points of the season in a 1-1 draw with FC Fleury 91. Soyaux got back in the win column with a 1-0 victory over winless Metz, and Guingamp also picked up a 1-0 victory over Rodez. And Dijon recorded their second straight win after beating Lille 3-1. The first big clash of the season went the way of PSG as they beat Montpellier by a score of 3-0. Don’t look now, but Montpellier have managed just one win—and just one goal!—from four games.
Lyon head into a mid-week matchup with Avaldsnes on Thursday, September 27, at 18:30 local time (12:30 ET) at Groupama OL Training Center. Lyon take a 2-0 advantage into the home leg, and they’ll be looking for a few early goals to assure themselves of qualification for the Champions League round of 16. Keep an eye out for injury reports for Bacha and Carolin Simon; the backup left back was held off the team sheet against PFC due to injury, but with Bacha unlikely to be ready to go on Thursday, OL will want to see Simon back to full health.
Finally, will there be late additions to this year’s Lyon squad as the transfer window comes to a close? Rumors are swirling about one or two potentials newcomers from the NWSL, with Seattle’s Jess Fishlock and North Carolina’s Lynn Williams the most prominent names. Keep following the Lyon Offside team for news and analysis as it happens!
[All photos via SN Ternay (@SyNTernay)]