Lyon prove too strong for valiant Steaua

FC Steaua Bucureşti 3-5 Olympique Lyonnais
The French champions kick-started their Group F push thanks to two goals apiece from Karim Benzema and Fred against opponents who led twice.

Karim Benzema is congratulated on scoring the first of his two goals
Karim Benzema is congratulated on scoring the first of his two goals ©Getty Images

Olympique Lyonnais kick-started their UEFA Champions League campaign after two goals apiece from Karim Benzema and substitute Fred helped them to a pulsating away victory against an FC Steaua Bucureşti side who had twice held the lead.

Thrilling affair

Lyon had drawn against ACF Fiorentina and FC Bayern München in their two previous Group F games, but were two goals behind after eleven minutes in Bucharest as Arthuro and Dorin Goian put the hosts ahead. They were level by the 33rd minute, however, thanks to Benzema and Kader Keita and though Ovidiu Petre headed a third for Steaua just before the interval the second half was all Lyon. Fred equalised and two minutes later Benzema finally edged the visitors' noses in front though Steaua's challenge did not end until Fred scored again in added time.

Scintillating Steaua
With one point and no goals from their first two games Steaua had plenty to prove and their determination was immediately clear. Reward came after just eight minutes when Dayro Moreno collected the ball deep inside the Lyon half and squared for right-back George Ogăraru to deliver a cross that was met by Arthuro's powerful downward header. The exposed Hugo Lloris had no chance, and was beaten again three minutes later when Goian diverted Bănel Nicoliţă's corner towards goal and, distracted by Ovidiu Petre's air kick, the goalkeeper dived over the ball as it crept into the net.

Lyon revival
Lyon's response was not long in coming and it took a superb save at full stretch by Robinson Zapata to keep out Benzema's wicked low drive. The Ligue 1 leaders continued to press and Keita, chosen ahead of Fred to partner Benzema, vindicated Claude Puel's selection in the 23rd minute when he latched on to Jean II Makoun's clever chip with a thunderous volley. Ten minutes later Lyon were level as Fabio Grosso was given time to pick his spot with a hanging cross and Benzema was left unchallenged to head past the helpless Zapata.

Petre pounces
If the seven-time French champions thought the worst was over, though, they were proved painfully wrong on the stroke of half-time. Again a high ball into the area proved their undoing, with Lloris caught out as Nicoliţă swung over an identical corner from the right and Petre rose above Keita to thump in an unstoppable header and restore Steaua's advantage.

Fred impact
Lyon emerged for the second half in positive mood, Benzema and Juninho Pernambucano both trying their luck early on, although there was a reminder of their vulnerability against set-pieces when Goian met another Nicoliţă corner only to direct his header straight at Lloris. Lyon were still making most of the running, however, and in the 69th minute Juninho and Jérémy Toulalan combined to set up Fred. The Brazilian, who had only replaced Keita two minutes earlier, beat Zapata with a cool finish.

Lyon relief
The visitors were soon in front for the first time and it was Steaua's turn to concede from a set-piece as Juninho's right-wing free-kick was met at the near post by Benzema, who flicked a clever volley into the far corner. The home side were forced to press forward and Fred took advantage two minutes into added time, scoring at the second attempt from Anthony Mounier's low cross.