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A late goal from Miralem Pjanić gave Olympique Lyonnais a hard-earned victory against ten-man ACF Fiorentina in this UEFA Champions League Group E opener.
The home side looked the likelier winners from the moment Alberto Gilardino was dismissed for violent conduct on the stroke of half-time yet were held at bay by a string of fine saves from the visitors' French goalkeeper Sébastien Frey. With 14 minutes remaining, however, Pjanić was first to react to yet another Frey stop to give the French side the perfect start to their attempt to reach the knockout stages for a seventh successive season.
Early on both sides did an excellent job of closing down the space and pressing their opponents, with the result that 20 players were crammed into a single third of the pitch. The home fans on the Virage Nord provided plenty of atmosphere with their chants, clapping and drums, but on the pitch there was little to cheer, with the first half-chance not materialising until midway through the half when Adrian Mutu's slick back-heel put Gilardino through, only for stand-in centre-back Jérémy Toulalan to make a last-ditch tackle.
A minute later Lyon striker Bafétimbi Gomis fared no better when he too tried to chase a loose ball, only for Frey to smother at his feet. The match came to life just before the break, with a misdirected cross from Lyon left-back Aly Cissokho skimming the top of the crossbar. The pendulum then swung decisively Lyon's way as Gilardino was shown a straight red card after going into an aerial challenge with Toulalan with elbows raised.
The home team started the second half intent on making their numerical advantage count, a ferocious 25-metre shot from Lisandro – scorer of four goals in the play-off round – standing out amid the pressure on Frey's goal. Though Lyon kept Fiorentina on the back foot, the Italian side clearly needed no lessons in how to defend, even with ten men, and continued to deny their opponents clear chances. They survived another close call when substitute Sidney Govou sent a low cross into the box and Gianluca Comotto stretched out a boot to deny Lisandro from point-blank range.
Jean II Makoun then sent a glancing effort wide as Lyon continued to struggle before suddenly making the breakthrough. Yet another attack looked to have broken down, only for Govou to flick a pass through to Kim Källström on the right side of the box. His angled cross-shot was only parried by Frey and Pjanić pounced on the rebound to score from close range. Lyon pushed for a second but Lisandro and Govou only brought out the best of the keeper, who also reacted smartly to prevent an own goal by his captain Dario Dainelli to keep his side in contention. The Viola duly pressed forward but a late spell of pressure failed to yield an equaliser and they must look to bounce back against Liverpool FC on 29 September, when Lyon visit Debreceni VSC.
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