Lyon disappointingly fell to their first defeat of the season away at Montpellier on Tuesday night in a match shown live on BT Sport in the UK. It was a chance to reclaim their position at the top of the Ligue 1 table from Rennes, and maintain a one hundred per cent record at the start of the season, but it wasn’t to be as they never really got going.
Coach Sylvinho picked an unchanged starting line-up for the third game running, but despite their increasing familiarity with one another, the team looked disjointed and lacklustre.
Joachim Andersen was having a tough time of it in central defence and he conceded a penalty in the 37th minute for a needless shirt pull that didn’t even require confirmation from VAR. Why players are stupid enough to pull a shirt inside the box in these days of VAR I don’t know, because there’s little chance of getting away with it. Certainly not when it’s as blatant as Andersen’s offence. He’ll have to wise up and adjust to the new system if he’s to be a success at the club.
Fortunately for Andersen the penalty was struck against the post by Delort, but Lyon’s reprieve didn’t last long as they fell behind to a thunderbolt from Souquet on the volley following a poorly cleared corner.
Lyon lacked the attacking verve of their recent displays and never looked particularly threatening. There was precious little interplay between their forwards, and far too much eagerness to shoot from distance, even when a team mate was better placed. If they’re going to keep shooting from outside the box then they’d better start hitting the target and testing the ‘keeper a bit more frequently.
Lyon’s task became all the harder in the 52nd minute when left-back Koné was given a straight red card for a headbutt on Delort. It was the intent rather than the contact itself, which was minimal, but Delort nevertheless went down as though he’d been shot in the face rather than tickled by the tips of some dreadlocks. Above all, Koné was punished for his stupidity. It was an aggressive rather than violent action, but the referee had no hesitation in brandishing the red card without recourse to VAR.
Like Andersen, Koné is another one who will need to adapt quickly to a VAR world. You just can’t hope to get away with these things anymore, even if the referee misses them. It wasn’t a glorious evening for the new signings in Lyon’s back line!
On a positive note, the ten men did make a fist of chasing an equaliser and looked the better team for short periods, but were unable to break down a resolute home defence. Sylvinho was positive, bringing Cornet and Terrier off the bench, but they ended the game with only Aouar as a recognised midfielder on the pitch and perhaps had too many square pegs in round holes to get back on level terms.