Last season's semi-finalists Olympique Lyonnais got their Group B campaign off to a winning start courtesy of Michel Bastos's first-half strike against ten-man FC Schalke 04.
The seven-time French champions had made an unconvincing start when Bastos pounced on a weak back header from full-back Christoph Moritz to open the scoring on 21 minutes. Although Felix Magath's men posed the occasional threat, the outcome rarely looked in doubt from moment Benedikt Höwedes was shown a red card for dangerous play seven minutes before the break. Jimmy Briand, Miralem Pjanić and Lisandro all missed chances to increase the lead in the second half, but OL will nevertheless travel to Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in buoyant mood on 29 September, when Schalke will look to register their first point at home to SL Benfica.
Les Gones were in their 11th successive group campaign, yet it was Schalke, returning after a two-year absence, who settled the quickest. Jefferson Farfán took advantage of a slip from Timothée Kolodziejczak on ten minutes, intercepting the 18-year-old left-back's clearance before unleashing a volley that was tipped wide by Hugo Lloris. From the resulting corner, the Peruvian nodded over.
Last season's Bundesliga runners-up were looking strong in midfield and comfortable at the back until Moritz's defensive slip presented OL with the lead. The right-back attempted to head Briand's cross-field pass back to his goalkeeper, only for Bastos to steal in and lob the stranded Manuel Neuer. Höwedes sprinted back but, under pressure from the Brazilian forward, could not prevent the ball crossing the line.
Moritz was then close to making amends, fizzing in a low shot from the edge of the box that was expertly pushed wide by Lloris, yet the balance of the contest swung further towards the hosts when Höwedes was shown a straight red card having caught Briand in the chest with a high boot. Lyon were suddenly buzzing and twice went close before the interval, Yoann Gourcuff firing narrowly over before Briand burst clear and evaded Neuer, only for Nicolas Plestan to clear.
Felix Magath reacted by sending defender Joel Matip on for midfielder Ciprian Deac, but the ten men continued to struggle in the second half. After Neuer had helped Bastos's left-footed strike past the post, Briand surged up the right and unselfishly teed up Miralem Pjanić whose low, side-footed strike missed by a whisker. Lyon controlled matters with impressive maturity without scoring the second goal, Lisandro going closest when his 76th-minute shot was stopped by Neuer from point-blank range.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.