Lyon beats APOEL Nicosia 1-0 in Champions League

Lyon (France): Lyon overcame APOEL Nicosia’s tight defense with a second-half goal by Alexandre Lacazette on Tuesday, giving the French side a narrow 1-0 advantage after the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 match.

Lacazette fired in a powerful shot that deflected off APOEL defender Paulo Jorge and looped over goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis in the 58th minute.

APOEL, which made history this season by becoming the first Cypriot team to reach the knockout phase, frustrated Lyon with some outstanding defending before conceding that unlucky goal.

“We had some good reasons to be wary of this team that gave a hard time to Porto, Shaktar (Donetsk) and Zenit (St. Petersburg),” Lyon coach Remi Garde told Canal Plus television. “It’s a team that is very well organized and dangerous on counterattacks.”

Lyon will visit APOEL in the second leg on March 7.

The hosts dominated possession in the opening minutes and put the APOEL defense under pressure with teasing crosses from Lacazette and Michel Bastos.

Garde surprisingly left on the bench winger Jimmy Briand to start the relatively inexperienced Lacazette. But Garde’s faith in the youngster was rewarded.

Lacazette won the ball in midfield in the 15th and found Lyon playmaker Honorato Ederson, who fired a low drive from the edge of the box, but Chiotis crouched to make the save.

Ederson then dribbled past two defenders in the 21st and fed Lacazette, who was clean through on goal but offside.

Only some stout defending from APOEL prevented the hosts from scoring.

Lyon fullback Anthony Reveillere had a close-range effort blocked by Paulo Jorge in the 25th. Bastos pounced on the loose ball but the Brazilian winger’s long-range strike sailed over the bar.

A through ball from Ederson in the 40th was redirected into the path of Lacazette, whose first-time shot was tipped over the bar by Chiotis.

Lyon outplayed APOEL, finishing with 63 percent of the possession and 18 shots to only one for the Cypriot team.

“We would have liked a bit more efficiency in those attempts,” Garde said. “We missed some. I hope we won’t regret it in the second leg.”

Lyon caught the APOEL defense out of position in the 47th when Bastos played Ederson in with a side-footed pass. The Brazilian playmaker rounded Chiotis to shoot but Paulo Jorge rushed back to clear the ball off the line.

The hosts finally broke the deadlock in the 58th when Brazilian centerback Cris picked out Lacazette on the left of the area for the winning goal.

Lyon nearly doubled the lead a minute later when Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez sent Bastos clean through on goal but the Brazilian winger shot wide from 10 yards (meters).

Substitute Yoann Gourcuff also had a good chance in the 77th but missed the target from seven yards, heading over from a cross by Bastos.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris preserved the win by parrying a curling shot from APOEL substitute Gustavo Manduca in the 88th.

“It’s important that we didn’t concede any goal,” Cris said. “We knew we were facing a team that was very strong defensively.”

Portuguese midfielder Helio Pinto will miss the second leg after receiving a yellow card in the 52nd for a foul on Lopez.

Bureau Report