Juninho Pernambucano enhanced his reputation as European football's premier free-kick specialist as Olympique Lyonnais moved to within touching distance of qualifying for the knockout rounds.
The Brazilian added another to his collection of stunning set-pieces with the first goal in Lyon's comprehensive 3-0 Group E victory over winless FC Dynamo Kyiv. Juninho turned provider for the third, headed in by Florent Malouda, while Kim Källström got the other as Gérard Houllier's slick outfit strengthened their position at the summit.
After a cautious first 15 minutes on a bitterly cold evening at the NSC Olympiyskiy Stadium, the game sprung into life with two chances in the space of a minute. Sylvain Wiltord nodded over a cross from François Clerc, the adventurous full-back, while at the other end, Serhiy Rebrov found the back of the net but had failed to time his run and the goal was ruled out for offside.
Needing three points to keep alive their slim qualification hopes, Kiev must have thought they had broken the deadlock on 21 minutes when Artem Milevskiy met a Taras Mikhalik cross with a firm header. But Rémy Vercoutre, in for the injured Grégory Coupet, produced a superb low save to push the ball away for a corner. Vercoutre's opposite number, Taras Lutsenko, also justfied his selection by repelling a rising drive from Alou Diarra soon after as the match started to open up into an end-to-end affair.
The opening goal was always going to prove crucial and when it did arrive, it was well worth the wait. There was only one thought in Juninho's mind when he lined up a free-kick 23 metres out and he did not disappoint, exquisitely planting the ball high past Lutsenko, who was comprehensively beaten by the pace and flight of the dipping ball.
Dynamo were still reeling from the wonder strike when they conceded a second seven minutes later. Clerc played a lofted ball into the path of Källström who brilliantly turned inside two players, surged into the box before beating the home keeper at his near post.
Aware that he had to go for broke if his side were to salvage anything from the game, Anatoli Demianenko made a double substitution at the interval, bringing on Maksim Shatskikh and Oleh Gusev in an attacking move. Yet their chances of a comeback were dashed five minutes after half-time when Malouda headed in an inswinging corner from Juninho. With the win sewn up, Houllier wasted no time in replacing Juninho with Jérémy Toulalan just before the hour, the Brazilian schemer having sustained an injury to his left leg.
The hosts were now playing for pride and they twice came close to becoming the first team to score against Lyon in this season's competition. Vercoutre was at full stretch to keep out a towering header from Ayila Yussuf and was then quick off his line to smother Badr El Kaddouri on a luckless night for the Ukrainians.