Goalscorer Michel Bastos is hoping Tuesday's UEFA Champions League win against FC Schalke 04 will help launch Olympique Lyonnais' season after a stuttering start on the domestic front.
Both teams went in to the game on the back of poor league form, but Claude Puel's team look to be moving in the right direction again after clinching a deserved 1-0 victory in Group B. Bastos latched on to a defensive slip to open the scoring in the 21st minute, and after the visitors had Benedikt Höwedes sent off before the interval, Lyon never looked in danger.
Despite dominating in the second period, Les Gones failed to score again, although Bastos was more than satisfied with the display. "We were really in control of the game," the 27-year-old told UEFA.com. "We didn't score more goals and we didn't play brilliantly but the important thing was to win. At this stage of the Champions League you need to get points. Now hopefully we can start to get some wins and gain some confidence."
The seven-time French champions are currently 16th in Ligue 1. They could only draw 1-1 at home to Valenciennes FC on Saturday after squandering several opportunities, including one glaring miss by Bastos in the dying seconds. The Brazilian international admits he was desperate to make amends. "The miss against Valenciennes hurt me," Bastos explained. "At the end of his team talk, Claude Puel showed us that miss again, and then said, 'Today it's going to go in'."
Puel will be thrilled his motivational technique worked, but will also take heart from the overall display. Lining up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation that included two playmakers in midfield – Miralem Pjanić and Yoann Gourcuff – there were signs of the fluidity returning.
Pjanić took encouragement from the performance, saying: "It's the first time we've played like that so it's going to take time to find our marks. But I thought it went really well. We kept possession for long periods and hardly conceded a single scoring chance. We could have scored one or two more, but hopefully we'll put them away in our next game."
If Lyon feel they have turned a corner, Schalke were left to stew on another frustrating defeat, following on the heels of three straight losses in the Bundesliga. The visitors had begun well yet saw their chances nose dive after Höwedes's dismissal. For defender Nicolas Plestan, it was an unhappy return to his homeland, although the former LOSC Lille Métropole stopper was looking on the bright side.
"We had a bad spell in the first half which made the game trickier," Plestan said. "We did our best with only ten men and tried to score on the counterattack or from a free-kick, but we couldn't do it. Now we have to look ahead. The game at home to Benfica is very important. A lot can still happen in this group."
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