Fred and Tiago repeated their goalscoring heroics of two weeks ago against Real Madrid CF and Karim Benzema struck late on to give Olympique Lyonnais another UEFA Champions League Group E win at FC Steaua Bucuresti.
The home side had been holding out well until a fumble from goalkeeper Carlos Alberto Fernandes allowed Fred to register just before half-time. Tiago's strong header ten minutes after the interval and substitute Benzema's delicate shot confirmed the victory and leaves Lyon with a healthy three-point group lead.
As his team returned to their revamped Steaua stadium after nine months away, home coach Cosmin Olaroiu looked to counter the threat of Juninho Pernambucano by deploying the experienced Petre Marin at right-back, but within six minutes the Brazilian midfielder had already showed his worth with a trademark free-kick that was spectacularly saved by Fernandes. Generally, though, while Lyon were hugely dominant in possession, their 4-3-3 formation with Fred as the spearhead was not creating clear-cut chances against a well-organised Steaua back line.
With Sorin Paraschiv captaining Steaua from midfield, having passed a late fitness test, their only opportunities were shots from distance - Florin Lovin getting into range with a useful if hopeful effort in the 27th minute. Meanwhile, Fernandes was forced into more acrobatics by a looping strike by Jérémy Toulalan, the Portuguese custodian not taking any risks about the attempt sneaking in though it appeared to be going wide.
However, with two minutes left in the half came a moment Fernandes will want to forget. With a free-kick from the same position 25 metres to the right of goal from which Juninho had earlier threatened, the Brazilian sent in a hopeful shot. Fernandes advanced to claim but spilt the ball as he leapt, and was helpless when Fred pounced and confidently struck with his right foot into an empty net.
Lyon have never lost a UEFA Champions League tie after scoring first, but Steaua were not about to panic and continued to rely for their attacking thrust on the skill of Valentin Badea rather than the more powerful Cyril Thereau. Nicolae Dica almost sent through Banel Nicolita but Eric Abidal used his strength to prevent a one-on-one with Grégory Coupet. Daniel Oprita was introduced to add physique to the Steaua front line, but within moments Lyon doubled their lead. Juninho was the creator again, curling in a corner which Tiago headed past Fernandes after outjumping his Steaua markers.
No way through
Steaua had no choice but to press, yet Lyon had hardly been giving them much of the ball and that did not change. Thereau was brought on with 15 minutes left, but the last word went to teenage forward Benzema who slid the ball in from a tight angle after running on to Juninho's back heel. Nonetheless, Steaua's 4-1 win at FC Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday 1 means they are still in a good position ahead of their double-header against Madrid while Lyon are in Ukraine in three weeks' time.