Lyon win Champions Trophy in shoot-out

28 July 2012 10:46

French Cup holders Lyon kicked off the new season by beating title-holders Montpellier on penalties to win the Champions Trophy at the Red Bull Arena here on Saturday.

Lyon came from behind twice in 90 minutes and, with no extra-time, they won 4-2 in the shoot-out, with Jimmy Briand scoring the decisive spot-kick.

It was a missed opportunity for Montpellier, who led twice courtesy of a John Utaka strike and a penalty from Argentine summer signing Emanuel Herrera, only for Lyon to hit back each time through Bafetimbi Gomis and then Briand.

OL missed their first kick in the shoot-out, with Gueida Fofana seeing his effort saved, but goalkeeper Hugo Lloris -- who is a transfer target of Tottenham Hotspur -- saved from Gaetan Charbonnier and Henri Bedimo to set Lyon on their way to a seventh Champions Trophy victory.

It was their triumph in last season's French Cup that handed them their place in this match, the traditional curtain-raiser to the French season, which was played at the home of Thierry Henry's New York Red Bulls in an attempt to promote French football on this side of the Atlantic.

But OL are not the force they once were, and Remi Garde's side were without skipper Lisandro Lopez because of a calf injury, while Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom left the camp on the eve of the game to complete a transfer to Spartak Moscow.

Lyon, then, were the underdogs even against a Montpellier side missing their two star turns from their title-winning season -- Younes Belhanda was suspended while Olivier Giroud has departed for Arsenal.

But their coach Rene Girard was able to hand debuts to summer signings Daniel Congre, Anthony Mounier and Herrera, and Montpellier started the stronger of the two sides on a humid afternoon.

They played with greater fluidity and attacking intent in the opening stages and were rewarded with the opening goal just before the half-hour mark when Utaka broke in from the left and got a favourable ricochet off Fofana before beating Lloris with a powerful drive from 12 yards.

Mounier, who started his career at Lyon but left to make his name at Nice, fired over soon after before Fofana flashed a warning shot just wide at the other end.

And Lyon drew level with barely a minute of the first half remaining when Gomis got in between Vitorino Hilton and Bedimo to head home a superb Yoann Gourcuff cross from wide on the left.

That goal proved that Lyon remain a danger going forward even without Lisandro, but their inability to keep the door shut at the back cost them dear last season and they found themselves trailing again not long after the restart.

Gomis was harshly penalised by the American referee when a Marco Estrada free-kick struck his arm inside the area as he jumped with the wall, and Herrera, brought in from Chilean side Union Espanola this summer, sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot.

That looked to be that, especially after Fofana fired just over from 20 yards from a Gourcuff cut-back, but then Alexandre Lacazette picked out an unmarked Briand, who volleyed home to make it 2-2 13 minutes from time.

Stung by that blow, Montpellier were then reduced to ten men when Estrada was sent off for a reckless challenge on young substitute Yassine Benzia, and they were lucky not to lose the game inside 90 minutes.

Lacazette somehow failed to hit the target with the goal gaping, and Briand hit the post with an acrobatic volleyed effort, but Lyon were ultimately not to be denied.

Source: AFP

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