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Lyon leave challengers reeling

Olympique Lyonnais scored 39 goals and conceded just once on their way to retaining the title in 2012, their 2-0 final defeat of 1. FFC Frankfurt in front of more than 50,000 fans a fitting climax.
by Paul Saffer

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Lyon leave challengers reeling

Olympique Lyonnais scored 39 goals and conceded just once on their way to retaining the title in 2012, their 2-0 final defeat of 1. FFC Frankfurt in front of more than 50,000 fans a fitting climax.

If anything, they were even more supreme than 12 months earlier. Olympique Lyonnais retained the UEFA Women's Champions League title in 2011/12 with a 2-0 final defeat of 1. FFC Frankfurt having left all-comers reeling in their wake.

No team since Umeå IK won the second and third editions of the UEFA Women's Cup in 2002/03 and 2003/04 had successfully defended the European title, not even sole three-time winners Frankfurt. But on a night when Frankfurt equalled Umeå's mark of five finals, Lyon eased to victory in front of a European women's club record crowd of 50,212 in the first football match at Munich's Olympiastadion since FC Bayern München had moved out. It capped a season when debut entries from Albania and Latvia increased the entry to 54.

Frankfurt, entering the competition for the first time since its 2009 revamp, had by their standards stuttered on their way to the final, losing their away leg in every round apart from their comfortable last-four defeat of Arsenal LFC. But then, following the retirement of Birgit Prinz and the departure of several other stalwarts, not to mention the pre-quarter-final injury to goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, their new generation were doing just fine.

Lyon, meanwhile, scored 32 goals without reply in seeing off CFF Olimipa Cluj, AC Sparta Praha and Brøndby IF to earn a semi-final with Potsdam, who they had faced in the last two deciders. After the Stade de Gerland first leg Lyon were 5-1 up, and although the return finished goalless, they were now in the position of being clear favourites against German opposition, something only ever perhaps achieved by Umeå in their pomp. Potsdam, perhaps, were missing Anja Mittag, who after the round of 16 left for FC Malmö at a point where she was tournament top scorer on seven goals.

Alarm bells may have been ringing for Frankfurt when Lyon fielded nine of the XI who started against Potsdam in London a year earlier, but the German side delighted most of the crowd with a lively start. Clear chances were rare, though, and on 15 minutes, in pretty much their first attack, Lyon won a penalty when Shirley Cruz Traña was fouled by Melanie Behringer and Eugénie Le Sommer coolly converted.

That meant she now led Camille Abily by one goal in the competition top scorer stakes on nine. No matter, the Lyon midfielder made it 2-0 13 minutes later when she lobbed Desirée Schumann from distance, the Frankfurt goalkeeper having come out of her box to head clear.

Although Frankfurt did not give up, Lyon continued to have the best chances and Abily hit the crossbar with a free-kick before being named player of the match for the second final running. Coach Patrice Lair, whose first two seasons at the Lyon helm both brought UEFA Women's Champions League titles, had built a side of Abily, Le Sommer, Cruz Traña, Louisa Necib, Sonia Bompastor, Sarah Bouhaddi and others to compare with anything the female club game had ever seen.

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