Matches between Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain are usually close affairs but last April, Lyon put five past PSG as they marched past their closest rivals to their 17th league title in Division 1 Féminine. The two teams had already met this season in the Trophée des Champions which saw Lyon win the cup after a 4-3 penalty shootout. That match a few weeks ago was a reverting back to form of what to expect between these two evenly matched sides and Saturday’s game showed that the top two teams in France would again push each other all the way.
At the heart of Lyon’s 1-0 win in the Groupama Stadium was Saki Kumagai, who not only scored the only goal of the game in front of 30,000 plus fans but also put in a commanding performance from midfield. AllForXI had previously noted that the battle between the two midfields would be something to look out for and that was indeed the case on Saturday as Lyon’s midfield was patient and ruthless when called upon.
PSG looked to defend deep and hit Lyon on the counter but the hosts were wary of that threat and kept the Parisiennes at bay for most of the game. Kumagai, along with Amandine Henry and Dzsenifer Marozsán, not only kept the ball well but also played in great passes for their forwards to latch on to as they looked for a way past Christiane Endler in PSG’s goal. Even with Eugénie Le Sommer having to leave the game after picking up an injury in the first half, you never got the sense that Lyon would waiver, and they continued to knock on the door of a stout PSG backline. After the break, Lyon found another gear and began to look for the opening goal. It didn’t take long for the home side to find it as Saki Kumagai rose highest in the 49th minute to head in Marozsán’s corner kick. Earlier this week, Marozsán had stated that she would “find another head” during set pieces as Wendie Renard would be suspended for the match and find another head she did. As the corner came in, Kumagai beat Formiga to the ball and sent in a bullet header that Endler had no chance in saving. It was a deserved goal for Kumagai, who had been one of if not the best player on the pitch today.
PSG had their chances to take the lead or at least find an equaliser as Marie-Antoinette and Kadidiatou Diani had half chances earlier on in the game but PSG’s best chance of the game came through Ashley Lawrence. Lucy Bronze fell asleep at the back post for a second and the Canadian international had a shot on goal that Sarah Bouhaddi parried away to keep Lyon ahead. That late opportunity was the closest PSG had come to breaching Lyon’s goal and their failure to do so allowed Lyon to see out the game and pick up three big points. Katoto was kept quiet by a combination of Kadeisha Buchanan and Griedge Mbock while Diani was clearly not at 100% after her issues with her thigh earlier this week. This limited what PSG could do on the counter and allowed the likes of Bacha to go forward far more often than she would normally if Diani had been fitter.
Olivier Echouafni, PSG’s manager, felt that today’s result showed that his team is not far away from being able to beat the league champions and he is right. A slightly more adventurous tactical plan may have aided PSG better but they did manage to limit Lyon to just a goal today (Endler’s fantastic 78th minute save from Marozsán free kick being key to that). However, today’s win for Lyon now puts them solely at the top of the league, a position familiar to them, and if past history is anything to go by, they will not relinquish that lead easily.
Goals: Kumagai (49’).
Olympique Lyonnais: Bouhaddi; Bronze, Mbock, Buchanan, Bacha; Henry, Kumagai, Marozsán (van den Sanden, 78’; Le Sommer (Cascarino, 44’), Hegerberg, Majri.
Paris Saint-Germain: Endler; Glas, Paredes, Dudek, Morroni; Geyoro, Formiga (Diallo, 75’), Däbritz; Diani (Huitema, 75’), Katoto, Nadim (Lawrence, 68’).