Lyon secured a slender advantage in their Champions League last 16 tie with APOEL FC by beating the Cypriot underdogs 1-0 in the first leg at Stade Gerland on Tuesday.
APOEL are the first team from Cyprus to reach the knockout rounds and they defended stoutly in front of over 4,000 travelling supporters but were undone by an Alexandre Lacazette goal shortly before the hour. Lacazette's strike, allied to what was only a second clean sheet in their last 12 games, puts Lyon in a commanding position to reach the quarter-finals prior to the second leg on March 7.
“The result gives us a chance to secure qualification in Nicosia,” said Lyon coach Remi Garde, whose side enjoyed 64% of possession.
"We would have preferred to score a second goal and push APOEL further back. But I'm not disappointed because we did the maximum against a side that has caused problems for other teams. “We found a way to goal without conceding a goal, which is very important.”
APOEL had created the sensation of the group phase by finishing ahead of Zenit Saint Petersburg, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk and their Serbian coach Ivan Jovanovic refused to concede defeat.
“It’s a very good result for Lyon, of course, and they have a big advantage,” he said.
Not so lucky
APOEL had charted their way through Group G by sitting deep and picking their opponents off on the break, and they stuck to their guns in a first half that kicked off to a backdrop of glowing flares in the away end.
Lyon met APOEL's conservatism with a 4-2-3-1 formation that relegated Bafetimbi Gomis, their top scorer, to the bench, and Lyon toiled to find gaps in the visiting defence.