A 5-0 win for OL Féminin over Avaldsnes on Thursday secured the defending champs’ spot in the Champions League Round of 16. Lyon came into the match with a 2-0 advantage on aggregate after their win in Norway two weeks ago, and recorded goals from each of the front three to avoid any surprise early in the season’s biggest competition.
In the first leg against last year’s Toppserien runners up, the Avaldsnes defense held firm for 50 long, frustrating minutes before Amandine Henry was able to break the deadlock. This time around, OL spared their supporters the stress with Amel Majri getting on the board in 8th minute.
Lucy Bronze found Eugénie Le Sommer streaking down the right side, and Le Sommer rolled a low cross back into the box. With plenty of Lyonnaises arriving on the scene, it was Majri at the back post who slotted the ball into the back of the net.
The first goal should have served as a warning to the Avaldsnes defense that Lyon’s right side would prove troublesome. Bronze, Henry, and Le Sommer linked up well all evening, creating a host of dangerous chances. Le Sommer made the most of her opportunities too, recording a double in the first half.
At a 3-0 disadvantage on aggregate, it would have taken a miracle for Avaldsnes to flip the script. But the mountain got even steeper when an error from the Norwegian team’s goalkeeper in the 22nd minute allowed Le Sommer’s hopeful cross toward the near post to sneak into the back of the net for the French striker’s first goal of the night.
Hemmed into their own half and under enormous pressure, the Avaldsnes defense did its best to limit the damage. But a poor clearance in the 31st minute handed the ball to Saki Kumagai in a dangerous position. Kumagai’s shot from distance was blocked by the defense, but Le Sommer was first to the loose ball and fired it beyond the reach of the keeper and into the net.
OL took the 3-0 lead into halftime, and qualification for the next round was all but assured. Avaldsnes hadn’t mustered any chances of note through the first 45 minutes, but less than ten minutes into the second half, they nearly ruined Lyon’s streak of clean sheets.
Brazilian midfielder Luana picked Wendie Renard’s pocket, and while we were all still figuring out how exactly that happened, Luana launched a shot from distance in the hopes of lobbing Lisa Weiß. Weiß, making just her second start for OL, backtracked quickly and got just enough of her fingertips on the ball to direct it off the crossbar and preserve the shutout.
Adding insult to injury for Avaldsnes, les Fenottes immediately went down the other end and scored. Henry beat her defender on the right side, and Hegerberg—who was kept off the scoresheet in her native Norway—finished with a no-doubt-about-it rocket into the top of the net.
Hegerberg wasn’t finished, though. After a Renard goal was disallowed for an alleged foul, Hegerberg capped off the scoring with the goal of the night in the 81st minute. Some nifty footwork from Delphine Cascarino, who came off the bench in the second half, froze two defenders and gave her space to find Hegerberg well outside the box on the right side. With no defenders closing in, Hegerberg allowed herself a few strides before launching a missile into the goal for her second of the night.
Lyon walk away with a 5-0 win on the night, and 7-0 victory on aggregate in the Round of 32. In other good news, OL’s healthy lead in the second half allowed Coach Reynald Pedros to give Champions League minutes to his youngest attackers, Cascarino, Emelyne Laurent, and Melvine Malard. Cascarino looked quick in her return from a leg injury that has sidelined her for several matches. And Selma Bacha was healthy enough to make the team sheet after a knee-on-knee collision last Sunday had supporters fearing much worse.
It’s a tough call for Player of the Match, with Hegerberg and Le Sommer scoring impressive goals and Majri continuing her torrid start to the season. But we’re going with Amandine Henry, who was very active offensively throughout the match, and whose link up play with Bronze and Le Sommer was the key to unlocking the right side of the field. An honorable mention goes to Saki Kumagai under our official Playing-With-Cute-Kids rule (previous honorees under this rule include Lucy Bronze).
Elsewhere in Champions League action, the shocker of the round came out of England, with Manchester City eliminated by Atletico Madrid. Lyon have met Man City in the semifinals the past two years, but the streak will end there for Lucy Bronze and Izzy Christiansen’s former teammates.
FC Barcelona advanced past BIIK Kazygurt 4-3 on aggregate, overcoming a surprising 3-1 loss in Kazakhstan in the first leg. Chelsea and Wolfsburg each advanced comfortably, and first-time Champions League competitors Juventus were sent home early by Brøndby.
Lyon will learn their next Champions League opponent on Monday, October 1. The draw will be held at 13:00 local time (7:00 a.m. ET / 4:00 a.m. PT). The next Champions League match will take place on either the 17th or 18th of October.
Before then, OL are back in action Sunday, September 30, for a D1 Féminine matchup against Rodez—and the possible debut of new midfield recruit Jess Fishlock. Rodez did just enough to avoid relegation last season, but have suffered defeat in each of their first four games this year. Kickoff is scheduled for 15:00 local time (9:00 a.m. ET / 6:00 a.m. PT).
[All photos via SN Ternay (@SyNTernay)]