Under a clouded Mancunian sky there was a well organised display of European football. Last year’s UEFA Women’s Champion’s League, Olympique Lyonnais, were held to a goalless draw by Manchester City.
City manager Nick Cushing will take plenty of positives from the match as his English side battled well with the French giants. There were moments of attacking brilliance from Melissa Lawley, as she spun on the ball often to fool the Lyon midfield and create chances against the run of play.
Frantic opening minutes of this semi-final clash suggested an end-to-end match with the potential for goals. However, it was to be a frustrating afternoon in front of net for Lyon, but a bold defensive performance from City.
The prime opportunity came for Lyon in the fourth minute when Ada Hegerberg capatalised on a loose pass, driving into the box to provide Eugenie Le Sommer with an opportunity. The chance was smothered but it was clear that Lyon had the upper hand early in the game.
An almost nervous start for the home team invited an onslaught of Lyon pressure, but Manchester City’s backline did well to deal with the attack.
After ten minutes of play tables were turned momentarily as Melissa Lawley’s clever turn and break saw City advance forward, however the Izzy Christansen’s shot lacked the same flare as Sarah Bouhaddi easily collected.
In the 16th minute, Dzsenifer Marozsan came close to putting the French side in the lead with a signature shot from distance. The shot drove low to the corner corner but fell just wide of the post.
Former City defender Lucy Bronze slipped with the ball, in turngiving Nikita Parris possession. The forward nicked the ball past Lyon’s backline and into the path of Lawley. She fired a powerful shot into reach of Bouhaddi, but the keeper could tip it over the bar and for a corner.
By the half an hour mark, the game fell into a pattern: high possession and pressure from Lyon and nippy counterattacks from City. Despite the impressive, chances were not clear cut which caused tension to grow. Bronze was given a yellow card for a heavy tackle on Parris down the wing, as the Citizen faithful jeered "Off!"
More chances fell to the visiting side. Skipper Wendie Renard headed Selma Bacha’s curling corner over the bar while striker Hegerberg could only tip Bacha’s cross round the post.
Lyon look to create
Play resumed at the Academy Stadium and Lyon enlisted the creative expertise of Kheira Hamraoui for Shanice Van De Sanden. The swap livened up the game but the clinical edge was still llacking for both sides.
Le Sommer came close with a neat volley but the shot was almost scuffed and Karen Bardsley made no errors in stopping the ball. Minutes later at the other end of the pitch, City captain Steph Houghton missed her chance too as she misjudged floating free kick.
Demi Stokes and Abbie McManus had been working worked tirelessly down the wing to prevent the breakthrough of Amel Majiri and Van De Sanden, however the introduction of Hamraoui and Delphine Cascarino proved to be a new kind of challenge.
However, City could adapt and react. Karen Bardsley’s quick reactions saw the keeper smother an effort on the line to further frustrate the visitors.
With 15 minutes remaining, Manchester City were growing in confidence and testing Lyon’s backline. By pushing forward, they could pry more corners from the French side. Parris was on the cusp of giving her team the advantage but she fired the ball over the bar instead.
In the remaining minutes, Lyon reclaimed possession but failed to convert chances. Hegerberg’s had a particularly exasperating end to the game, hitting the side netting and tipping the ball wide again.
Lyon had 11 total attempts on goal but today, they were off-target.