Olympique Lyonnais took a giant stride towards their tenth consecutive UEFA Champions League group-stage appearance by storming to a 5-1 triumph over RSC Anderlecht in the first leg of their play-off.
The sight of the Ligue 1 giants pouring forward and scoring almost at will may not have been unfamiliar to regular observers, yet the evening felt like a fresh dawn as several new faces took centre stage. Indeed, after Miralem Pjanić had set the ball rolling, summer arrivals Lisandro, Michel Bastos and Bafétimbi Gomis impressively took charge, all scoring before half-time. Matias Suarez pulled one back in the second period but Gomis' second shortly after ensured Lyon are in the box seat for their trip to Brussels next Tuesday.
Gomis had missed the first game's chance, nodding Aly Cissokho's cross narrowly wide, yet with Lisandro and Bastos posing problems on the flanks the visitors soon succumbed. Lisandro, OL's €24m record signing, was fouled on the edge of the box, allowing Pjanić to curl a delightful free-kick in off the bar for his first Lyon goal.
The Belgian visitors sought a response, Guillaume Gillet crossing dangerously for Suarez only for Hugo Lloris to intervene. That save sparked a rapid counterattack and seconds later Lisandro was bearing down on goal. The Argentinian was felled trying to round goalkeeper Silvio Proto, but picked himself up and thumped in the resulting spot-kick.
The goals left Les Mauve et Blanc floundering and they struggled badly as the hosts cut loose, Bastos firing in the goal of the night on 39 minutes, coming in from the right and unleashing a stunning left-footed strike into the top corner. The stadium was still buzzing when, three minutes later, Lisandro set up the fourth, playing a one-two with Cissokho and squaring for Gomis to side-foot in.
With forward Jonathan Legear on for Gillet, Anderlecht finally made attacking inroads after the break, Legear and Tom De Sutter both squandering good chances within six minutes of the restart. De Sutter turned provider on 58 minutes, flicking Proto's long clearance on for Suarez, who dribbled past Lloris before stroking in. It brought only fleeting respite and five minutes later Gomis streaked clear to collect Bastos' threaded ball, jinked past an exposed Proto and slotted into the empty net. Lyon finished in total command, Proto sparing Anderlecht's blushes with two fine saves late on to deny Delgado, the goalkeeper pushing the second on to the bar.