Olympique Lyonnais survived a late onslaught by a tenacious Brest side to escape from Brittany with a scarcely deserved 3-2 win and return to top spot in Ligue 1 ahead of the remainder of the weekend programme, which affords title rivals Lille and PSG the opportunity to leapfrog them again when they face Lorient and Monaco respectively.
It was a wet and blustery night by the Atlantic Ocean and the weather had a profound effect on proceedings. Lyon led 3-0 at the interval but were hanging on for dear life in the face of a strong Brest come-back by the end of the second period. However, it wasn’t so much of a game of two halves as a game of one end.
Both teams had chances aplenty throughout the encounter and it could easily have finished six apiece, with Brest perhaps shading it on the balance of play. The ball however, seemed destined to only enter the net at one end of the pitch, and it was the end towards which the forceful wind was blowing.
Lyon were playing with the wind behind them in the first half, yet it was Brest who made the best start and forced Anthony Lopes into a couple of fine saves early on. The visitors were struggling to get a foothold in the game when they were gifted the lead in bizarre circumstances as Brest goalkeeper Sebastien Cibois tried to turn Lucas Paqueta in his own six yard box but lost out to the Brazilian midfielder, who was left with a simple tap in.
The goal helped Lyon settle, although Brest still threatened regularly at the other end. Lyon began to combine more successfully in attack and forced another defensive error in the 29th minute allowing Depay to feed Aouar, who had a simple task to fire past Cibois and double the advantage.
The third goal came just before half time when Depay was played in behind the Brest defence by Bruno Guimaraes and knocked the ball past Cibois only to be brought down by the hapless ‘keeper. Depay got up to take the penalty himself and made no mistake from the spot to give Lyon a very flattering 3-0 half time lead.
With the wind behind them, Brest came out with intent in the second half and showed great belief that they could stage a come-back. They got their reward after only eight minutes when centre-back Brendan Chardonnet, still forward from a corner, headed a Franck Honorat cross past Lopes.
Lyon’s nerves really started to jangle in the 74th minute when Irvin Cardona, played on by Mattia De Sciglio, beat the offside trap and fired a venomous shot past Lopes to reduce the deficit to one. From that point on Brest laid siege to the Lyon goal to make it an extremely stressful final twenty minutes for Lyon fans as their team desperately clung onto the slender advantage.
I swear I’m going to have a heart attack watching Lyon try to close out a game one of these days. They never looked comfortable, although they did threaten at times on the break and should have done better with a couple of chances to wrap things up. Eventually, after six minutes of stoppage time, the referee finally brought a halt to proceedings and Lyon were back to winning ways.