Les Fenottes kicked off a critical week for their title defenses with an important 2-1 win over a dangerous Montpellier team. Montpellier managed to end OL’s run of clean sheets, but couldn’t keep Lyon from maintaining a perfect 6-0 record in D1 Féminine.
Montpellier hoped to turn their season around coming out of the international break, and an upset at Lyon would have made quite a statement. Last year’s third-place finishers have had a frustrating start to the season, managing just one win and one draw from their first five games, and struggling to find goals, as rumors of tension between players and coaching staff swirl.
The visitors have the talent to challenge OL, but they prioritized defense out of the gate, setting up with five at the back. Not for the first time this season, Lyon struggled early to unlock the defensive block. Les Lyonnaises dominated possession in the first half, but it took until the 44th minute to find a breakthrough.
Griedge Mbock swung a free kick into the box and her defensive partner Wendie Renard nodded the ball across the front of the goal. It found the head of a Montpellier defender, but the clearance attempt failed as the ball dropped to Eugénie Le Sommer. The Lyon striker whipped the ball into the back of the net off the volley for her fourth D1F goal of the season.
OL Ang'Elles (@OLAngElles) October 14, 2018
The 1-0 advantage at the half was deserved, and it didn’t take OL long to double the lead coming out of the break. In the 52nd minute, Amel Majri broke down the left side and cut the ball back to Jessica Fishlock in the center of the box. Fishlock put the ball on frame, and Montpellier’s keeper Casey Murphy fumbled it into the back of the net.
Fishlock was plenty pleased to score on her home debut for Lyon, and celebrated with a delightful whirling dervish dance. Let’s hope this isn’t the last time we see the #HappyFish.
OL+ Féminin (@OL_Plus_Fem) October 14, 2018
Lyon looked comfortable with the 2-0 lead, but Montpellier didn’t go quietly into the night. French international Valérie Gauvin came on as a sub to provide some offensive pop, and it was her goal that brought the visitors back into the game in the 72nd minute.
Montpellier earned a free kick in Lyon’s defensive half, and Gauvin’s header off the set piece caught Sarah Bouhaddi flat footed. It was a blustery afternoon in Lyon, and the players suggested after the match that the wind may have hindered the defense’s tracking of the ball.Les Fenottes bounced back quickly from their first goal allowed this season, and Montpellier rarely threatened after their opener. OL had the better chances, especially in the closing minutes of the match. Fishlock had a golden opportunity to record a brace as she stared down Murphy in a one-on-one in the box. But the American goalkeeper came up trumps, kicking the ball away, before pushing Majri’s follow up attempt wide.
Off the ensuing corner, Renard again rose above the rest to find a teammate with her header, but Hegerberg’s effort hit the angle where the post meets the crossbar. The ball fell kindly to Fishlock again, but the Montpellier defense blocked her shot and cleared the danger.
The game ended on the 2-1 scoreline, and while the margin of victory was slim, it’s probably fair to say the game was closer to finishing 3-1 than it ever was to 2-2. But Coach Reynald Pedros emphasized after the game that OL have to better at killing off games, and you’ll get no argument here. We’ve still yet to see Hegerberg at her most lethal, and comfortable wins have been few and far between this year.In addition, figuring out the midfield puzzle hasn’t gotten any easier without Amandine Henry. But Fishlock is finding her way with the squad, and Saki Kumagai has been important as a steadying force. Things may be looking up, too, as Dzsenifer Marozsan returns to full team training on Monday. The team should remain cautious with Maro, who is recovering from a pulmonary embolism suffered over the summer, but seeing her out on the field will do plenty to boost spirits.
Griedge Mbock earns Player of the Match honors for another excellent game in central defense. Her free kick led to Lyon’s first goal of the afternoon. And when OL was unable to kill off the game with a third goal late in the second half, Mbock made sure Montpellier never got close to an equalizer by shutting down the visitors’ last forays into Lyon’s defensive half.
Honorable mention to Sarah Bouhaddi for how casually cool she made this important intervention look.
OL Ang'Elles (@OLAngElles) October 14, 2018
Elsewhere in league play, Metz gave PSG a scare, but a late push from the Parisians earned a 3-1 victory. Paris FC recorded a big 4-0 victory over Rodez in their first game under new coach Sandrine Soubeyrand, and Dijon beat Soyaux 3-0. Matches between Bordeaux and Guingamp and Lille and Fleury each ended in scoreless draws.There’s no rest for the weary now, as OL’s big week continues with a midweek Champions League match up against Ajax in Amsterdam. The game kicks off Wednesday, October 17 at 19h00 CET (1:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT). Ajax currently sit in second in the Eredivisie, and are coming off two wins and three draws in their last five. Lyon’s week will conclude with a Sunday showdown against an upstart Bordeaux squad currently holding down third place in D1F.
Photos via SN Ternay (@SyNTernay)