Fiorentina had the French “Lion” almost tamed. In their nth rendez-vous with top European football (since the 2001-02 season, OL have won 7 consecutive Ligue 1 championships), Lyon started the match at ferocious pace, but after a couple whip-cracks by Alberto Gilardino (coupled with an almost flawless Viola defence) the beast had stopped roaring.
However, thanks in no small part to Swedish referee Peter Frojdfelt, the French team got the helping hand they needed to draw level. A shame, because this was probably the best version of La Viola since the season’s start.
(From Gazzetta): Lyon’s start was frightening. The French lauched themselves forward with full of use of their offensive weapons: Fred, Govou, Juninho and most of all Karim Benzema. Remarkably however it was Mathieu Bodmer, a defender, who fired the overhead shot hitting the crossbar and making the Viola fans shiver.
But then in minute 11, La Viola found the way to flip the game inside out: Montolivo recovered the ball, Felipe Melo switched the play to the right to Luciano Zauri, whose cross found the noggin of Alberto Gilardino. Violin-man’s lovely diving header opened the scoring, and Prandelli was ecstatic. 1-0 Fiorentina.
A goal which really did the trick for the visitors, pumping gas into the Viola’s game and morale. Of course, the French responded with venom, mainly through Benzema who was driving Zauri mad on the left flank (but Frey always kept close guard right behind him). Then there were the Fiorentina counter-attacks, with Sergio Almiron hitting the top corner with a shot for the highlights reel, and Adrian Mutu who (thanks to Boumsong’s mistakes) forced goalkeeper Hugo Lloris into a miraculous save. Also, there was La Viola’s second goal: a textbook maneuver that sent Mutu down the right flank to provide the pinpoint cross for Il Gila. ‘Nother header, and 2-0 Fiorentina.
Lyon began the second half in the same manner as the first, pounding away through the drive of Benzema and Juninho. On occasion the French pressure was incessant, but the Viola were organised in defence and Frey continued to be exceptional. French coach Claude Puel tried some substitutions, shortly imitated by Cesare Prandelli (ready to play the Alberto Santana card).
Then however came the episode that opened the match up for Lyon, something which will much talked about in the week to come. With Zauri writhing in pain on the ground (he later had to be stretchered off and substituted) Lyon calmy manufactured their goal via a Benzema-Piquionne combination, amid protests from the Viola to kick the ball out and the complete indifference of the referee (the same referee which had allowed Van Nistelrooy’s goal vs. Italy to stand during Euro 2008). 2-1.
From that moment the game changed, and the French, aided by the psychological blow to their opponents, found the equaliser five minutes from the end. From 30 yards out, everyone expected Juninho Pernambucano to deliver one of his famous free-kicks, but instead the Brazilian midfielder faked the shot and rolled the ball towards Benzema on the right. The French youngster, devoid of marking, then simply had to slam a hard shot towards the first post, surprising Frey. 2-2.
Just as not all teams are like the Viola, not all teams are famous for their fair play.
|GOALSCORERS: 1′, 42′ Gilardino (F), 73’ Piquionne (L), 86’ Benzema (L).
| LYON (4-3-2-1): Lloris – Reveillere, Boumsong, Bodmer, Kallstroem – Makoun (60’ Ederson), Toulalan, Juninho – Govou (89’ Mounier), Benzema – Fred (65’ Piquionne). (bench: Vercoutre, Cris, Gassama, Mensah, Pjanic). Coach: Puel.
|FIORENTINA (4-3-1-2): Frey – Zauri (76’ Jorgensen), Kroldrup, Dainelli, Vargas – Almirón, Felipe Melo, Montolivo – Kuzmanovic (64’ Santana) – Gilardino (81’ PazzinI), Mutu. (bench: Storari, Gobbi, Donadel, Jovetic). Coach: Prandelli.|