Olympique Lyonnais booked their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the fourth successive season as Karim Benzema's early goal maintained their 100 per cent record in Group E with a hard-fought victory against FC Dynamo Kyiv.
The 18-year-old's clinically-taken strike was enough to keep Gérard Houllier's side in control of the section with four wins, while Dynamo remain pointless but restored some pride with a battling display. Lyon must now focus on securing top spot ahead of Real Madrid CF, who stayed three points behind with a 1-0 home success against FC Steaua Bucuresti, as Dynamo set their sights on third place and UEFA Cup qualification.
Lyon were targeting a fourth straight victory and began as clear favourites against a Dynamo team still seeking their first point. The French champions struggled to find their customary fluency early on, however, and with Taras Mikhalik and Ayila Yussuf closing down tenaciously in midfield, the game's first opening fell to the visitors only for Kleber's control to let him down.
Any early encouragement Dynamo may have garnered soon evaporated as the hosts opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Benzema, leading the line in place of the injured Fred, won possession and exchanged passes with Sidney Govou before surging into the penalty area and showing great composure to slot under Olexandr Shovkovskiy for his third goal in as many UEFA Champions League appearances.
Tiago drilled a shot at Shovkovskiy as Lyon threatened to take the tie away from their opponents, but the Ukrainian visitors stood firm and were soon threatening at the other end. The elegant Artem Milevskiy threaded a pass through for Mikhalik but the midfielder was denied by Sébastien Squillaci's last-ditch challenge, then Oleh Gusev miscued after linking cleverly with Kleber.
Lyon take charge
Dynamo struggled to sustain the pressure, and the fleet-footed Benzema became increasingly influential. The striker was denied a second by Goran Gavrančić's brave block after François Clerc's cross had picked him out just before the half-hour, then Govou fired over having weaved his way through the heart of the Dynamo defence. Florent Malouda was the next to try his luck, the winger's shot nestling into Shovkovskiy's arms on the stroke of half-time.
The second half started at a slower pace with Lyon content to defend in numbers and pick their moments to attack. The ploy almost paid off when a Dynamo offensive broke down, allowing Tiago to spring forward and play Benzema through on goal but this time the teenager, under pressure from half-time substitute Rodrigo, blazed narrowly over. Benzema was guilty of more profligacy six minutes later, miscuing from close range after Shovkovskiy had parried Malouda's low drive.
Lyon might have paid for that miss as Dynamo finished strongly, but Grégory Coupet saved Rodrigo's free-kick before Milevskiy squandered his side's best chance on 76 minutes, deflecting Gusev's centre agonisingly wide of the far post. Kleber headed weakly at Coupet after beating the offside trap in the closing stages but Lyon survived and are still to concede in this season's competition.