By Mark Bennett at Weserstadion
French champions Olympique Lyonnais produced a masterful display to overcome their German counterparts Werder Bremen, Sylvain Wiltord, Mohamadou Diarra and Juninho Pernambucano striking to earn a comfortable away win that all but sealed a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Wiltord struck with only nine minutes on the clock in the Weserstadion to give Paul Le Guen's team the advantage before long-range efforts from Diarra and Juninho completed a fine evening's work. Lyon will be taking nothing for granted at the Stade Gerland on 8 March, however, having defeated Bremen by the same score on the side's last meeting in the 1999/00 UEFA Cup third round first leg only to lose the return 4-0.
With Ivan Klasnic having to pull out minutes before the start of the match with a suspected recurrence of his thigh injury, Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf was forced to pair Miroslav Klose to partner Nelson Valdez up front. Bremen nevertheless tried to take control of the match and threatened within a minute, Ludovic Magnin breaking forward and crossing for Daniel Jensen, but Lyon goalkeeper Grégory Coupet did enough to force the midfield player to misdirect his header. Six minutes later Valdez made a run down the left before feeding Johan Micoud, but the former French international's shot was palmed to safety by Coupet.
Lyon refused to be rattled by Bremen's bright start and took the lead on nine minutes. Malouda broke down the right before crossing low towards Pierre-Alain Frau. Although the striker failed to connect properly, the ball found its way to the far post where Wiltord calmly slotted past Andreas Reinke.
Bremen needed ten minutes to recover but came close to an equaliser in the 18th minute, Tim Borowski launching himself at Paul Stalteri's cross but only finding the side-netting with a spectacular diving header. Nine minutes later Stalteri provided another good ball from the right after being released by Jensen and this time Coupet was forced into a great reflex save by Klose.
Lyon then had another lucky escape when Valérien Ismaël headed fractionally high. Bremen continued to push forward despite the visitors' threat on the counterattack and Stalteri's third good cross fell to Borowski but once again the midfield player failed to hit the target.
Lyon looked much more organised in the early stages of the second half and succeeded in keeping the German champions away from their own goal. On the hour Schaaf made his first substitution, introducing Aaron Hunt for Borowski and switching to a more attacking 4-3-3 formation. However, the change did not alter Bremen's luck in front of goal, with Coupet turning Klose's shot away with an unconventional save.
At the other end Sidney Govou came close to doubling his side's lead in the 67th minute, meeting Lamine Diatta's right-wing cross with a glancing header that beat Heinke only to hit the right-hand post and rebound into the goalkeeper's grateful arms. Moments later Valdez should have levelled when he hustled Diatta off the ball inside the Lyon penalty area only to pull his shot wide.
With Bremen's attacking efforts stuttering Lyon sealed their win with two goals in four minutes. With 13 minutes remaining Diarra beat Reinke with a vicious shot from the edge of the area after subtle approach play by Juninho and substitute Jérémy Clément, and three minutes later Juninho produced a trademark free-kick from 30 metres out to leave the Bremen goalkeeper clutching at air again and complete a memorable win.