Olympique Lyonnais's bid for a record-equalling fourth straight French title got off to a winning start as with a 1-0 victory at OGC Nice in the opening Ligue 1 match of 2004/05.
Lyon, whose hat-trick of titles have been based on strong season finishes, had not won an opening match since 1981, and struggled for most of the match. Nice striker Roland Linz forced Grégory Coupet into a save on 26 minutes and substitute Marama Vahirua, newly signed from FC Nantes Atlantique, saw his free-kick hit the Lyon post just after the hour.
But the visitors held on and Giovane Elber volleyed the champions ahead 13 minutes from the end. Coupet then denied Romain Pitau in stoppage time as Lyon held on for the three points. "We were waiting for this victory for a very long time," said Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas, who side last week retained the French Super Cup. "It is a great success. It proves that we are ready. We have worked hard to achieve this and it paid back."
He added: "I hope it is a good omen as we are determined to retain our title once again." The rest of the opening round of fixtures is played on Saturday.
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