Reserve goalkeeper Rémy Vercoutre rose to the occasion for Olympique Lyonnais after keeping a clean sheet on a rare first-team outing in a 3-0 victory at FC Dynamo Kyiv.
The 26-year-old was making only his third UEFA Champions League appearance last night and his first since 6 December last year when he played the full 90 minutes of Lyon's 2-1 home win in the group stage against Rosenborg BK. That was a game which mattered little given the club had already qualified for the first knockout round. In contrast, Lyon were eager on Matchday 3 to make it ten wins in a row in all competitions and maintain their three-point advantage in Group E over Real Madrid CF.
Vercoutre's rare chance came after France No1 Grégory Coupet suffered a hand injury last week that could keep him out for the rest of the month. Any worries that coach Gérard Houllier may have had about his stand-in were quickly dispelled as Vercoutre made several key saves, particularly in the second half when Dynamo went for broke having conceded three times in the first 50 minutes to Juninho Pernambucano, Kim Källström and Florent Malouda.
"I'm satisfied with how I played but I don't want to overshadow the performance of the team," said Vercoutre, underlining the commitment which has made him an invaluable part of the Lyon squad. The former Montpellier Hérault SC shot-stopper, who joined Lyon in 2002, was particularly desperate to preserve the club's record of not having conceded in the competition this season. "We worked as a team to protect our goal and everyone in the team gave their all."
Houllier was delighted with his showing and also with the likes of Sébastien Squillaci, who stepped up in defence in the absence of Claudio Caçapa, and Alou Diarra who made an impressive UEFA Champions League debut in midfield. The coach was not worried that such performances would give him a selection headache in future. "I assume such a problem with pleasure," he said. "[With nine points from nine] we have done 75 per cent of the trip to knockout stage," he added. "The 25 per cent remaining will come in a fortnight at home."
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