Don’t be fooled by the score line symmetry, the second semi-final was everything the first wasn’t. Red cards, rare opportunities and very few mouthwatering combinations. A scrappy encounter in which PSG had the tactical nous to win but Lyon the knowledge and expectation to grind out a victory.
The game changing moment arrived at the 67th minute. Geyoro with a lazy challenge, already sitting on a yellow and received another for the clumsy cutting down of Bronze. Moments later Renard rises above the pack to head the ball into the far bottom corner, well out of the reach of Endler. The free kick resulting from the red card just adding salt to PSG’s wounds.
The thrill of the contest would announce itself less than 10 minutes later. Parris was sent off the pitch for a second yellow following a hasty challenge on the goalkeeper. With ten players on the park, space opened up. A desperate PSG threw bodies forward, but the brick wall of Lyon’s centre backs wouldn’t be breached.
But the ongoing saga of Lyon v Wolfsburg will once again reignite in the Champions League Grand Final.
Less so in the second half, but the space left in the wake of Bronze surging forward from right back, was a point PSG had marked as the chink in Lyon’s armour. The quick counter searching for their own left side to drag the centre-back out of place and force Lyon to scramble. In return, Lyon exposed that same flank.
The intensity of PSG arrived from the go. Lyon didn’t look ready for it. Caught sluggish, the high press turned the affair scrappy, with neither side capable of finding a rhythm. Lyon’s insistence to play out from the back meant they didn’t expose the space left between the lines left by PSG in lieu of winning the ball high up the park. The side from Paris played clever, deciding on when to sit back to save some legs but ultimately not allowing their opponents to rack up too much time with the ball at their feet.
Warning signs PSG were vulnerable in the air from the dead ball should have raised alarm earlier. Bronze with all the free space in the box from a corner, then Gunnarsdottir’s misguided header being THE chance of the first half. The prowess of Majri’s crosses was already on full display. There was no chance Lyon were going to open the scoring any other way. If the first half wasn’t demonstrative of that, just ask Bayern Munich.