A second-half free-kick from Juninho Pernambucano put Olympique Lyonnais on course for a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after a 1-0 victory against PSV Eindhoven at the Philips Stadion.
Following an even first half, the French champions stepped up the pace after the interval, and eventually got their reward on 64 minutes when they won a free-kick 25 metres from goal. Inevitably it was Brazilian midfielder Juninho who stepped up and he did not disappoint, striking a fierce, swerving drive that completely deceived compatriot Heurelho Gomes in the PSV goal. The visitors looked to press home their advantage but were forced to defend for the last ten minutes after Sidney Govou was dismissed for a second yellow card.
The win will go some way towards avenging last season's quarter-final defeat by PSV, and was largely down to a fine performance from a makeshift defence which saw recent signing Patrick Müller make his 50th UEFA Champions League appearance alongside Brazilian Cris. They helped subdue an attacking lineup of Jefferson Farfán and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, as Arouna Koné was confined to the substitutes' bench.
PSV almost took the lead in the first minute when Ibrahim Afellay's cross was met with force by the head of Vennegoor of Hesselink and only an acrobatic save from Lyon goalkeeper Grégory Coupet kept the scores level. Minutes later Coupet's opposite number Gomes was forced to scramble off his line to prevent Govou latching on to Michael Reiziger's weak back-pass as Lyon slowly established territorial advantage. But PSV remained dangerous on the break, with Afellay particularly menacing on the left.
In Juninho, Lyon have one of the best free-kick exponents in world football, but PSV revealed one of their own on 15 minutes when Farfán was brought down. Up stepped Alex, and the Brazilian defender's blistering drive grazed the crossbar as the helpless Coupet watched on. The set-piece was one of a series awarded to either team in a scrappy period in which André Ooijer received treatment for a head wound, and Cris for a knock.
Lyon midfielder Florent Malouda screwed an effort high and wide when well placed midway through the half, before PSV's Belgian international Timmy Simons saw his cross-cum-shot slip narrowly past the post as both sides created opportunities. With half-time approaching a bustling run from John Carew ended in a well-struck shot from the edge of the box that flew across Gomes's goal. Moments later Vennegoor of Hesselink went even closer, but not close enough, with a flashing header.
The second half started briskly, with Carew and Phillip Cocu missing chances at either end before Sylvain Wiltord, a half-time replacement for Cris, drilled an effort well past Gomes's right-hand post. Lyon continued to press, and Gomes had to stretch to keep out Mahamadou Diarra's rasping drive. PSV substitute Ismaïl Aissati then cleared a Carew header off the line just before the hour mark, and eventually the mounting Lyon pressure told.
Juninho's free-kick bamboozled Gomes but the goalkeeper went some way towards atoning for that error when he beat out a fierce drive from another Brazilian, Lyon substitute Fred soon after. By the time the French team's attacking impetus had been curtailed by Govou's dismissal, Koné had replaced Afellay. The Ivorian had a gilt-edged opportunity late on when sent clear by Vennegoor of Hesselink's header, but hit the post as Lyon took a significant step towards the quarter-finals.