A win to keep the average up
In the afternoon, FCG Rugby had scored a gutsy win over Stade Toulousain... but this home win for the Nice rugyb outfit wouldn't have any influenceon the result for their footballing counterparts... which was a superb sporting moment. While Hugo Lloris' Spurs had just drawn 0-0 with Stoke City... Would the day's rainfall play a role in OL's last match of the calendar year? Would the OL fans' welcome for former coach Claude Puel adversely effect Les Aiglons' performance?
Rémi Garde, still without the services of Gourcuff, Grenier, Lacazette and Briand, welcomed Dabo back into the side and opted at the last minute for a 4-4-2 formation that included Ghezzal even though Fofana had been tipped to start. Ol were looking to maintain their average of two points per match for the first half of the season and to keep PSG - who had won on Friday night - within reach. As for Nice, a ninth-straight match without defeat was in their sights...
The first chance fell for the visitors from a free kick (4') that set the tone for the opening exchanges, with Pied following up with a cross that was cleared for a corner (6') after Ol had lost the ball. Nice kept at it, with another ball into space converted into a dangerous cross (11')... Les Aiglons hit their stride quickly and goal machine Cvitanich drew a maginificent save from Vercoutre (12'). OL were struggling... but nonetheless Ghezzal had a chance (15') after a string of counter-attacks. It was a lively game at Gerland... Lisandro had a huge chance to open the scoring from a Dabo pass, but Ospina saved comfortably... the Argentine wasn't finished, but shot wide with his follow-up. Neither side was holding back...
Nice youngster Eysseric showed his quality, along with Bauthéac and Cvitanich... but the next highlight came as Réveillère hit Ospina's cross-bar (34'). Maupay came on for the injured Pied. OL and Lisandro benfited from Gomis' sweet delivery after Vercoutre had launched Ghezzal only for the youngster to see his shot blocked by Civelli. OL went into the break a goal up despite the best efforts of a Nice side who had come to play and win, and who had some regrets to deal with as the sides hit the locker rooms.
However, with 45 minutes to go before the holidays, it was all still up for grabs. Nice were controlling the play... but Ghezzal went agonisingly close to widening the gap (51') before Réveillère, played in by Lisandro, madea 40-metre charge through the Nice defence and scored (56'). OL were razor-sharp on the counter. Ghezzal went off, replaced by Fofana. OL switched to a 4-3-3 formation. Vercoutre was at his best faced with Traoré but shaky in front of Cvitanich, but the Argnetine striker missed the unmissable (70') and Nice's regrets were redoubled when Ospina saw red for a foul on Gomis. 'Bafé' got the better of substitute 'keeper Joris Delle from the resulting spot-kick... 3-0 for OL. Digard and co. just couldn't catch a break... but Lovren also received his marching orders for a foolish second yellow.
OL can now go on holiday with all the satisfaction of a job well done. They are still within striking distane of PSG, with a nice buffer in front of the chasing pack, and gave their fans a great Christmas present into the bargain.
Lyon, Stade de Gerland, ca. 35,000 spectators; referee Mr. Delerue; OL 3-0 OGCN (half-time: OL 1-0 OGCN)
OL: Vercoutre – Réveillère, Bisevac, Lovren, Dabo – Gonalons, Malbranque, Bastos (then N’Jie 82'), Ghezzal (then Fofana 62') - Gomis, Lisandro (cap). Coach: Garde.
OGCN: Ospina – Genevois, Civelli, Pejcinovic, Kolo – L. Traoré, Digard (cap) – Pied (then Maupay 34' then Bosetti 86'), Eysseric, Bauthéac (then Delle 75') – Cvitanich. Coach: Puel.
Goals: Lisandro (39'), Réveillère (56'), Gomis (76', pen.) for OL;
Yellow cards: Civelli (36') for OGCN; Dabo (65'), Lovren (77', 89') for OL
Red cards: Ospina (73'); Lovren (89' after a second yellow)