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Schelin puts Lyon in charge against Arsenal

Olympique Lyonnais 2-0 Arsenal LFC
Two early goals from Lotta Schelin have made Lyon favourites to reach the final after the first leg in south-east France.

Lotta Schelin (right) takes on Arsenal's Kim Little
Lotta Schelin (right) takes on Arsenal's Kim Little ©Arsenal FC

A quick-fire double by Lotta Schelin gave Olympique Lyonnais a thoroughly deserved two-goal lead going into next Saturday's UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final second leg against Arsenal LFC.

With her team roaring out of the blocks, Schelin struck in the second minute after being put through down the left by Camille Abily in a move started by the superb Lara Dickenmann. Swiss international Dickenmann then combined with Louisa Nécib who sent Schelin through nine minutes later to double Lyon's advantage and stun the visitors, who also lost to the French side as holders in the quarter-finals of the 2007/08 UEFA Women's Cup. Arsenal will attempt to turn the scoreline around at Borehamwood next weekend.

Lyon began the tie at breakneck speed, no doubt spurred on by the 20,123 crowd at the Stade de Gerland, a competition record attendance for a game other than a final. It was Dickenmann, match-winner in the last eight against Zveda-2005, who was instrumental in both goals against an Arsenal team missing suspended defenders Niamh Fahey and Gilly Flaherty.

The Switzerland player's neat pass picked out Abily who released Schelin, and the Sweden forward made no mistake by calmly firing past the advancing Emma Byrne. Dickenmann then turned her marker superbly on the left and found Nécib whose pass caught the Arsenal defence flat-footed as Lyon's top scorer in the competition, Schelin, took her tally to nine goals with a near carbon copy of the opener.

Lyon's combination play in midfield – especially that of Nécib and Dickenmann – was proving too hot for the Gunners, who were finding it difficult to cope with the hosts' lightning-quick counters. Though Laura Harvey's side composed themselves, it could have been three for Lyon seven minutes before the interval when Élodie Thomis was played in by Nécib, only for the 24-year-old to shoot narrowly wide of Byrne's right-hand post.

Arsenal struggled to fashion any clear-cut chances in the first half but after half-time they came into the match a bit more. Danielle Carter forced a fine save from Sarah Bouhaddi before the hour, while ten minutes later Rachel Yankey fed Ellen White but her shot did little to trouble the Lyon goalkeeper.

Dickenmann was replaced by Eugénie Le Sommer in the 57th minute as the winger left the field to a rousing round of applause, confirmation of her outstanding contribution. Lyon remained the more threatening thereafter without managing to find the third goal which would have reflected their overall dominance.

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