Ajax may be “stronger than grease” but they weren’t stronger than Lyon on Wednesday as OL Féminin picked up a 4-0 win in Amsterdam in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. The titleholders now have one foot in the quarterfinals after goals from four different players carried les Fenottes to a comfortable victory.
A sold out crowd (including 15 OL Ang’Elles) showed up to see last year’s Eredivisie champions take on OL, and the French side didn’t make them wait long for goals.
In the 12th minute, Shanice van de Sanden, playing in front of plenty of friends and family, took the ball off the foot of her Oranjeleeuwinnen teammate Kika van Es just to the right of the Ajax goal. The Dutch winger quickly cut a pass back to Amel Majri. A little fancy footwork allowed Majri to sidestep a sliding defender before tucking a left-footed finish into the far corner.
Majri seems to be enjoying her move away from the left back position–she’s up to 7 goals across all competitions this year, and remains on top of the assist leaderboard in D1 Féminine.
Lyon doubled the lead in the 27th minute after Eugénie Le Sommer’s quick turn earned a free kick at the top of the box. There were plenty of players circling for their opportunity to take the kick, but when the crowd cleared, it was Majri standing on top of the ball. Majri nudged the ball forward and Selma Bacha finished the job, punching the ball straight through the legs of a leaky Ajax defensive wall and into the back of the net. The goal was Bacha’s first in the Champions League, still three weeks shy of her 18th birthday.
With a half hour gone and a two-goal lead, Lyon let their foot off the gas a bit, finally letting Ajax see some of the ball. But none of the Dutch team’s possession resulted in any real chances, and Lyon were safely in the driver’s seat at the half.
Lyon stretched their lead coming out of the break, again from a set piece. Izzy Christiansen, who earned the start in midfield ahead of Jess Fishlock, swung a ball into the box on a free kick from distance. Both Ada Hegerberg and Wendie Renard converged, but it was Hegerberg who got there first, pushing a diving header past the goalkeeper and into the net.
With that goal, Hegerberg became the seventh player to ever record 40 goals in the Women’s Champions League . . . a feat that’s all the more astounding considering she is still just 23 years old. Seriously, give Ada long enough and she will break every scoring record in Europe.
Lyon put together a very good first hour of action, with plenty of quick, crisp passing, but it only got better in the final 30 minutes. Dzsenifer Marozsan made her long awaited return to action in the 63rd minute, just two days after rejoining full training with the team.
It’s amazing how much more dangerous she makes a team that is already very good. Maro looked up to speed, throwing herself into tackles, pushing action in the box, and showcasing the ridiculous ball skills and visionary passing that make her a constant presence in the Top 3 of every major footballing award.
Les Fenottes padded their lead in the closing minutes when Lucy Bronze, who was very active offensively throughout the game, broke down the right side and sent a hard low pass back toward the middle. Marozsan dummied the ball, taking a defender out of the play with her, and Christiansen was on the other end of the pass to place a fourth goal past the keeper.
After too many stressful games to start this year, the 4-0 victory was a breath of fresh air. This was the kind of Lyon performance we’re used to seeing: dominant, plenty of speed and rhythm, and technically sound. More of this please.
There were no shortage of great candidates for Player of the Match honors. But we’re sentimental and seeing Maro back on the field looking strong, healthy, and psyched to back out there with her teammates was the highlight of the night, so we’re giving honors to the German captain. Honorable mentions to Saki Kumagai and Sarah Bouhaddi, who celebrated their shared birthday with a clean sheet.There were few surprises elsewhere in Europe. After a scare in the Round of 32, Barcelona bounced back with a 5-0 win over Glasgow City. Atletico Madrid look unlikely to repeat their giant-slaying heroics from the last round, losing 4-0 to Wolfsburg. But it wasn’t all good news for last year’s UWCL runners-up, as they lost former Fenotte Lara Dickenmann to a torn ACL. PSG beat Linkoping 2-0, and Chelsea edged Fiorentina with a 1-0 victory.
Up next, Lyon do battle with Bordeaux on Sunday, October 21 at 15h00 local time (9:00 am ET / 6:00 am PT). A strong start to the season, with three wins and two draws, has Bordeaux in third place in D1F, and they’ll pose plenty of danger for OL. Les Fenottes will see some familiar faces, as Claire Lavogez makes her return to Groupama OL Training Center, while Mylaine Tarrieu will likely miss the match while recovering from an ankle injury.
Photos via SN Ternay (@SyNTernay) [Lyon-Montpellier].