UEFA Women's Champions League - VfL Wolfsburg 0-2 Olympique Lyonnais: French side make it count

Camille Abily and Dzsenifer Marozsan's second-half strikes have put Olympique Lyonnais in a commanding two-goal lead over VfL Wolfsburg, in the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Level-pegging at the break

With two attacking teams keen to stamp their dominance onto the game, Wolfsburg saw their first shot inside of the first twenty seconds, Elise Bussaglia’s effort from range an easy claim for Sarah Bouhaddi. Happy to play as the “home” team, Wolfsburg were the team on the offensive with Lyon willing to counter-attack, the hosts fast looking suspect at the back; the pace and smooth interplay of the French champions too much for the sluggish home defence.

With the Lyon pressure mounting and Wolfsburg reshaping to have a lone striker trying to hound the back three, Les Fenottes were nearly undone at their own corner. Almuth Schult sent the ball long for Caroline Graham Hansen to chase down against Amel Majri, Bouhaddi’s attempted interception just enough for the Norwegian to have to take the ball wide. Spurred on by the error the hosts again searched for the front foot, green flocking forward, only to be thwarted by a sea of white.

Though having some joy against the away defence, and able to get the ball into the box with green shirts ready to attack the hosts couldn’t quite time their runs to find the connection at the vital moment. The chances golden but untaken. More looped crosses came into Bouhaddi’s box but as was with the case of everyone else Lyon faced, nothing was being won, with Wendie Renard invariably first to everything in the air.

A seamless link-up from Pernille Harder to Graham Hansen to Anna Blässe produced one of the finer moments of the half, the full-back’s whipped delivery smuggled clear at the last. Lyon smooth in the transition, to flip defence into attack, Pauline Bremer and Majri always around to add width with Eugénie Le Sommer happy to play off of the shoulder, her first touch routinely a deft one.

With half-time looming Lyon nearly found their moment to slice through the deadlock as Alex Morgan found herself goalside, her low effort rushed and swept against Schult’s near post as the keeper failed to cover. Even with good chances for both squandered the majority of the action in the first-half took place in midfield with both busy taking lumps out of each other, any ground made readily surrendered moments later.

Lyon take a lead back home

Hungry for that away goal, Gerard Prêcheur threw Ada Hegerberg on at half-time to push his side into a front-three, the added pressure telling in the first moments after the break before Wolfsburg again found an opening. A strong run down the left saw the ball swung in to a dangerous area, Sara Bjork Gunnarsdóttir’s header well saved by Bouhaddi under all sorts of pressure, the French number one bright enough to tip the ball behind before Graham Hansen could send it home.

It wasn’t long before the ball was recycled and Lyon were back on the offensive, the strengthened attack like a spear through candy floss, ripping an opening in the box for Hegerberg, her header just off target. Le Sommer’s one-on-one with Schult neat enough to bring about the first goal of the game – or it would have been had the flag not been raised for her marginal offside, the home defence looking increasingly shaky.

The gaps at the back enough to lead to the opener moments later, with Blässe forced to foul Dzsenifer Marozsán just outside of the area, Camille Abily’s free kick arced through the air, nestling just under the bar in the far corner. A better free kick you could not have asked for.

The response from the hosts was swift, but a rush of blood to Alex Popp’s head saw her punt from 25 yards with Harder free to her left and nothing but green grass in front of her. Harder’s low ball in miscued moments later as it caught the side-netting. Every good move for the hosts undone with a lack of connection in the box, the nail hammered home when Marozsán was given room to twist in front of the box before lashing a low effort into the bottom corner.

Popp’s diving header a whisker wide, luck and time running out for the hosts as Lyon mounted another attack, bodies driving forward, the ball constantly being shepherded from one end of the pitch to the other. Tessa Wullaert left to shake her head in disbelief after her close-range effort cannoned the post before being cleared to safety, the hosts desperate for something to take with them to France, though time fast ran out.

Unable to convert any of their chances, Wolfsburg were their own undoing, Lyon clinical when it mattered. The deficit may prove too great to overcome in the south of France next week.

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