Arjen Robben was the decisive figure again as FC Bayern München earned the slenderest of leads to take to Olympique Lyonnais in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
Bayern were in charge from the first whistle, although the balance of the tie looked to have shifted when Franck Ribéry was sent off shortly before half-time. Lyon's numerical advantage was short-lived, however, as Jérémy Toulalan collected two yellow cards early in second period, and the Bundesliga leaders' reward for a dominant display finally arrived as the game moved into its final quarter. Robben – who scored winning goals against ACF Fiorentina and Manchester United FC in previous rounds – fired in from outside the penalty area.
Inspired by a wonderfully choreographed display from their fans it was Bayern who set the early pace, enjoying the majority of the possession as Lyon sat back. The first chances duly went the home side's way, the unmarked Daniel Van Buyten blazing a wayward volley into the Munich sky before Bastian Schweinsteiger headed Robben's corner wide after Hugo Lloris had missed his punch.
Thomas Müller twice failed to find the target after impressive creative work from Ribéry and Robben, while Ivica Olić sliced wide from the left side of the penalty area. Lyon did their best to alleviate the pressure with a string of balls into the Bayern box, though they were limited to set pieces and a deflected long-range drive from Ederson.
Bayern's momentum was further checked eight minutes before half-time when Ribéry was shown a straight red card after catching Lisandro high as the ball ran away from him. The visitors promptly enjoyed their first spell of sustained possession and Kim Kallström's powerful long-range effort drew a fine stop from Hans-Jörg Butt on the stroke of half-time.
The interval gave the home team the chance to regroup, however, and they were again fastest out of the blocks after the restart. Danijel Pranjić, standing in for the suspended Mark van Bommel but himself now banned for next Tuesday's second leg after a first-half booking, forced Lloris into the half's first save with a dipping left-foot volley. Schweinsteiger sent a powerful header wide and Müller missed another glorious opportunity, failing to convert Philipp Lahm's low cross.
Bayern's hopes were raised yet further in the 54th minute when it became ten against ten, Toulalan collecting his second yellow card in quick succession. With the teams again level numerically Bayern regained control, Robben and the energetic Schweinsteiger both firing narrowly wide.
It seemed a frustrating night had been assured when unmarked substitute Mario Gómez nodded tamely into the arms of the grateful Lloris, but the moment the home faithful had been longing for finally arrived in the 69th minute, Robben's thumping 25-metre strike wrong-footing Lloris after glancing off Müller's head.
Claude Puel's visitors mustered only a late Sidney Govou effort that flashed wide by way of response, and had goalkeeper Lloris to thank for keeping their deficit at one goal when he superbly denied Robben late on. Lyon still have work to do at the Stade de Gerland.
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