At the scene of their last exit from the UEFA Champions League ten seasons ago, Real Sociedad de Fútbol marked their return to the competition with a stylish victory over Olympique Lyonnais.
Antoine Griezmann's sensational volley against his boyhood club announced their return to European football's top table before an equally sublime goal from Haris Seferovic doubled the difficulty of the second-leg task facing Rémi Garde's team, who had defender Milan Biševac dismissed for a second bookable offence.
The positive energy generated by both sets of supporters was the fitting soundtrack to a frenetic opening at the Stade de Gerland. Carlos Vela threatened to interrupt the melodies from the home supporters in the Virage Nord, but, right in front of them, struck the side-netting with the first clear chance of the match. He then thudded another effort against a post after 12 minutes, following good vision in the build-up from Seferovic.
Trading the role of finisher for supplier, Vela helped set up Real's spectacular opening goal in the 17th minute, his cross from the left acrobatically volleyed low into the corner by Griezmann, the only attacking player occupying the Lyon box. Frenchman Griezmann – inspired by his transition from Gerland stands to pitch - had a hold on the game and shrugged aside Gueïda Fofana to force a save from Anthony Lopes from an acute angle midway through the half.
Lyon set about imprinting their mark on the match at the start of the second half, but no sooner had Maxime Gonalons glanced a header wide, than Jagoba Arrasate's side struck again. Seferovic was the man responsible, collecting an awkwardly bouncing ball on the left and executing a stunning half-volley from 25 metres that dipped under the crossbar and left a heavy dent in the hosts' resolve.
Gonalons hit the crossbar with a header from point-blank range and Claudio Bravo scampered off his line to smother a forward run from Miguel Lopes, but when Biševac brought down Vela for his second yellow card, Lyon's night got even worse. The Ligue 1 side are left with an uphill battle for the second leg next Wednesday, one that would have increased in scale had substitute Rubén Pardo hit the target with his late effort.
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