Jimmy Briand believes Olympique Lyonnais have recovered from a stuttering start to the season because they have "started doing the simple things well again" and stressed the players are full of "desire and motivation" after clinching a fourth successive victory in all competitions against SL Benfica on Wednesday.
The seven-time French champions were languishing in the Ligue 1 relegation zone a fortnight ago but are moving in the right direction again after recent victories against AS Nancy-Lorraine and LOSC Lille Métropole. The upturn in domestic form has been reflected in Europe, where OL have followed up their opening-day defeat of FC Schalke 04 with a hard-fought win away to Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC and a 2-0 triumph against the Lisbon giants, who were reduced to ten men after Nicolás Gaitán's 43rd-minute dismissal.
Briand and Lisandro scored the goals that clinched an impressive win in south-east France, moving Les Gones to the cusp of the knockout stage with nine points from three Group B games. Having registered his first goal in the competition, and his first at Stade de Gerland, the former Stade Rennais FC attacker was delighted. "
We really enjoyed ourselves tonight and probably should have scored more goals," Briand told UEFA.com. "But when it was ten versus 11 we focused more on keeping possession, making sure we conserved some energy for Sunday's game [against AC Arles-Avignon]."
As well as nodding in a Michel Bastos cross on 21 minutes, the French international capped a fine individual display by setting up the second for Lisandro. Yet the 25-year-old preferred to talk about the team's improving performances than his own display, saying: "I'm happy to have scored but the most important thing is the victory. Ever since the derby against St-Etienne we have started doing the simple things well again. There's lots of motivation and desire in the squad. We have won four games in a row now so everyone is happy. Hopefully we can keep going because this is a good period for me and the team."
While Briand was keen to stress that qualification has not yet been secured, this latest victory puts Claude Puel's charges in a very strong position. Maxime Gonalons is hopeful of clinching a place in the last 16 as early as the next game, away to Benfica on 2 November.
"We can be satisfied with the win, but now we have to get a good result over there to secure the points we need," he said. The 21-year-old ball-winner, who deputised admirably for the injured Jérémy Toulalan, added: "
We turned in a good performance, created chances and played some nice football. It's never easy to play against ten men but we passed the ball well and looked dangerous. Slowly but surely, the confidence is coming back."
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