Midfielder Kim Källström saluted Bafétimbi Gomis, Michel Bastos, Lisandro and Aly Cissokho after Olympique Lyonnais mauled RSC Anderlecht 5-1, telling uefa.com: "The new guys were all excellent."
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The departures of Juninho Pernambucano and Karim Benzema raised concern among the Olympique Lyonnais fans this summer, yet Wednesday's emphatic 5-1 defeat of RSC Anderlecht in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League play-off provided ample evidence that the former favourites have been cannily replaced.
New signings Bafétimbi Gomis, Michel Bastos, Lisandro and Aly Cissokho starred in a slick OL performance that has taken the seven-time French champions to the brink of the group stage for a tenth season running. The home supporters roared their appreciation – Lisandro and Gomis both got standing ovations when substituted – and the longer-serving Lyon players were equally impressed. "The new guys were all excellent," Swedish midfielder Kim Källström told uefa.com. "Gomis has been brought in to score and he got two. Lisandro was brilliant again, and Bastos played really well. Our left-back Cissokho also had a terrific game."
Les Gones have spent €72m on new blood but Källström knows buying expensive players is no guarantee of success. "The important thing is that we find the collective strength we had before," the 26-year-old explained. "We've signed good players and they all look to be settling. When you arrive at a big club it's very important to start well. It's been a very reassuring evening. It was our first top-level game this season and it meant a lot to us, to the fans and the club."
There was little doubt Claude Puel's men were fired up as they scored twice inside 15 minutes through Miralem Pjanić's free-kick and Lisandro's penalty. Gomis' double was preceded by the most spectacular goal of all, a stunning strike into the top corner from Bastos. Thrilled to have opened his Lyon account, the Brazilian winger hopes there will be more to come. "I came here to play big games and hopefully there'll be lots of nights like this," he said. "Everything's gone well since I joined – now I need to keep it going." Puel's decision to switch the left-footed Bastos to the right wing paid dividends, with the former LOSC Lille Métropole playmaker flourishing in his new role. "The coach studied Anderlecht and decided I would have more space on the right," he said. "I enjoyed being able to cut inside and shoot with my left foot, and fortunately I got hold of one of my shots really well."
With Bastos powering in from the right and the exceptional Lisandro pulling the strings from the opposing flank, Anderlecht – who clawed one back through Matías Suárez in the second period – struggled to live with the rampant hosts. Midfielder Guillaume Gillet described it as "a nightmare evening" and added: "We came here with good intentions but after 15 minutes we were already two down. We had a chance to make it 1-1 but didn't capitalise, then a few seconds later we conceded again. That was the turning point. Lyon are a very good side and once they got ahead they passed the ball very well. It's been a hard lesson and the second leg is also going to be very difficult."