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Wednesday, April 06, 2005 

Olympic Lyonnais 1 - 1 PSV Eindhoven (CL)



Battle-hardened defenders have been suffering nervous palpitations at the prospect of facing Olympic Lyonnais in the UEFA Champions League this season. With an average of over three goals a game, including the astonishing ten-goal salvo against German champions Werder Bremen in the last round, Paul Le Guen's side have given a clear signal that the French outfit mean serious business.

Misfiring attack
Until Tuesday's quarter-final first leg against PSV Eindhoven at the Stade Gerland, Lyon had rattled in 27 goals in eight games - the highest tally in this season's competition. However, this time around the machine misfired. They managed just a single goal - Florent Malouda's 12th-minute strike - and were stunned by Phillip Cocu's precious late equaliser which gives PSV a narrow advantage ahead of a tantalising return leg.

Champagne performance
PSV have consistently upped their game for European evenings. Seasoned coach Guus Hiddink - who has already tasted champagne from the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1988 - has built a fiercely determined unit that works industriously on and off the ball. Home and away wins to eliminate 2004 finalists AS Monaco FC in the first knockout round provided proof of their pedigree. Here, in a red-hot atmosphere, PSV battled furiously and occasionally rode their luck to keep Lyon at arm's length and earn a splendid draw.

Team spirit
The priority for Hiddink's outfit at the outset was to deploy that unflagging team spirit to quell Lyon's attacking potential. However, after a relatively promising start, the visitors suddenly found themselves in arrears - flimsy covering in the penalty area allowing Malouda to fire in goal No28 - and needing to focus on limiting the damage.

Essien endeavour
Buffeted for a period after the goal, PSV nevertheless succeeded in reaching half-time with their heads still above water. Even if they created very little of note themselves, they got sufficient bodies behind the ball to stall much of Lyon's momentum, although the powerful and impressive midfield player Michael Essien would have been frustrated to plant a close-range header straight at goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, before shaving the woodwork with another effort. Had either attempt found the net, Hiddink's charges would have immediately had to convert damage limitation into urgent crisis management.

Robust rearguard
Lyon, prompted by skilful Brazilian Juninho Pernambucano, sought the cushion of a second goal on the restart, but the second half opened with a promising spell of PSV possession - it was as if Hiddink had told his men that the best way to cope would be to keep the hosts as far away as possible from danger areas at the other end. When Lyon did threaten, Alex's robust resistance at the heart of the PSV rearguard was keeping them at bay as the hour-mark passed.

Promising counterattacks
A sense of edginess began creeping into Lyon's play - justifiably so, because the defiant Dutch side were proving an extremely tough nut to crack. A second goal was not forthcoming, with a fantastic point-blank save by Gomes from Sidney Govou heightening French tension. PSV were clinging on manfully, and managed to mount several promising counterattacks of their own thanks to the lively Jefferson Farfán on the right flank.

Cocu crescendo
Finally, PSV were rewarded for a gritty second-half effort. A close-passing movement 20 metres out ended with Phillip Cocu's low drive finding the corner of the net. The noisy Dutch contingent found full voice, while Lyon failed to rouse themselves for the finale and the verdict remains in the balance for when the sides reconvene at the Philips stadium in Eindhoven next Wednesday.

Goals: 12' Malouda (1-0); 79´Cocu (1-1)

Source: Uefa.com

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