1-0, min. 5, Abily. 2-0, min. 7, Le Sommer. 2-1, min. 42, Dekker.
Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 Montpellier HSC: Champions stay top after tight affair

Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 Montpellier HSC: Champions stay top after tight affair

Lyon make it nine wins from nine ahead of crunch game against PSG

Sophie Lawson

Anouk Dekker's goal was little more than a consolation for Montpellier as they went down to D1F champions Lyon on Saturday. 

The visitors did well to find their way back into the match after going two goals down inside of seven minutes away from home, but could not muster up an equaliser to earn a point.

Two in the blink of an eye

Despite a confident start to the game and a heart-in-the-mouth moment from Sarah Bouhaddi, as the 'keeper cameing out of her box less than three minutes into the game, giving Sofia Jakobsson half a chance to make the hosts pay, OL struck first.

Marion Torrent’s lazy foul on Eugénie Le Sommer left the ref with no option but to blow for a foul just outside the box, Camilie Abily’s bullet free kick giving Laetitia Philippe no chance.

Before the visitors had time to catch their breath they were forced to trudge back to the centre-circle as Philippe picked the ball out from the back of her net once more, Le Sommer’s back post-header from Amel Majri’s floated cross enough to beat the 25 year-old keeper.

Following the second goal, Montpellier immediately shifted to a more defensive set-up with more bodies behind the ball, trying to close off avenues of attack for a Lyon side well used to carving teams apart.

Lindsey Thomas working hard of the right side of a flat back line, shielding the ball from every white shirt that closed her down, 90 seconds of hard work to keep the ball from the imperious hosts.

Wendie Renard’s powerful header confidently saved by Philippe before the flag was raised, the visitors looking far more settled towards the half-hour mark but Lyon impossible to keep quiet.

Even when rapidly closed down by dark blue shirts, Lyon caressed the ball across the turf, finding teammates with ease, controlling the game and toying with their opponents.

Montpellier exploit the width

Best getting forward out wide, Sakina Karchaoui and Thomas gave the visitors their best chances. Thomas’ whipped cross five minutes before half-time had Bouhaddi scrambling to get a fingertip to the troublesome ball.

A moment of carelessness from Renard gifted Anouk Dekker a chance to nip in and steal the ball away in front of the box, Renard facing the wrong way as the Dutch international got beyond her to knock the ball into the far corner well out of Bouhaddi’s reach.

A smart ball through the defence gave Jakobsson a late chance in the half, the ball knocked clear by Renard, keen to atone for her previous error, the centre-back with a well-timed slide before Jakobsson could pull the trigger.

Lyon were quick to recycle the ball and create their own chance out of nothing at the death, another well-time slide tackle needed to keep the hosts from letting fly.

Open after the half

Feeling more settled in the game, Montpellier allowed themselves to attack more in after the break. Nowhere near as flat and firm at the back and with the game far more open, this was one of the few contests Lyon have had this year, although the French champions continued to look the more dangerous of the two teams.

A returning Dzsenifer Marozsán introduced into proceedings early into the second-half to spur the hosts on and work the away defence even more.

A break from Karchaoui was snuffed out by the combined efforts of Saki Kumagi, Pauline Bremer and Renard as the visitors started to get hot under the collar once again, losing all measure in their attacks.

Lyon’s strength and depth across the pitch proved too much for the young team as they continued to hunt for an equaliser, the hosts with far more options in attack, persistently threatening to get in behind.

Renard’s flicked header at a corner spun wide as the away defence found itself increasingly more stretched while a set piece at the other end of the pitch drew a routine save from Bouhaddi; Marion Romanelli’s header on target but lacking any power.

A moment of lax concentration from Philippe and Laura Agard let Le Sommer pounce on the ball in the box, Philippe standing tall on her line to block the shot with her shins as Agard applied the pressure on the striker.

Marozsán easily slipped behind the back line moments later, her low ball half-cleared as the visitors prepared themselves for the last twenty minutes; Lyon looking to storm the castle.

Marozsán’s lofted ball from the right side of the box was just two inches too high for Renard to connect with as the crowd impatiently asked for a third goal to insure all three points, Lyon’s one-touch football around a tired Montpellier defence was enough to lift their spirts but a lack of final product left them wanting.

Nervous last ten

With less than ten minutes left on the clock Montpellier thought they finally had an equaliser as Clarisse Le Bihan curled the ball around Bouhaddi and into the back of the net from a free-kick, only to have play pulled back for an offside.

The call was spot on the nose, but a reminder that the game hadn’t been won yet, with Lyon keen to go to Paris next wee  on the back of a win and PSG already having sealed their ninth win of the season at home to Juvisy.

Kept frustratingly quite throughout the match, the steely away side finally lost track of Ada Hegerberg in the last knockings, the young Norwegian given just enough room to unleash a rocket from 20 yards. Her driven effort far too much for Philippe but with a shade too much shape on it as it slammed against the far upright, cannoning back into the empty box.

A corner forty seconds from time gifted the away side one more chance to get bodies forward, the ball sent in an uncertain one as it flashed from near post to far before being cleared to the half-way, a foul and free-kick followed at the death, Montpellier unable to make anything of their delivery.

The win keeps Lyon top on goal difference with their away trip to PSG next week an early Christmas present for fans of the league. Montpellier meanwhile remain a team that should still be pushing for third come the end of the season.