Lyon’s recent improvement continued as they sank Marseille 2-1 at the Stade de Gerland on Wednesday to progress to the semi-finals of the French League Cup.
Goals either side of half-time from Yoann Gourcuff and Bafetimbi Gomis took Olympique Lyonnais through, with Andre-Pierre Gignac scoring a late penalty for the visitors, and Olympique Lyonnais’ win means they have now lost just once — against Paris Saint-Germain — in their last 15 games in all competitions.
Lyon coach Remi Garde said the victory was deserved, but added it should be put into context.
“We are happy to qualify, obviously, but it is a Cup match, so one shouldn’t draw too many conclusions,” he said.
His Marseille counterpart Jose Anigo concurred that Lyon deserved to go through and was scathing about his forwards.
“We should have been bolder and were a little too timid,” he said.
“Offensively we failed to put much together,” he added.
Both sides sent out strong starting line-ups in what was a repeat of the 2012 final, when Marseille won after extra time, and it was two of Lyon’s form men who combined to put the hosts ahead midway through the first half.
Marseille’s ’keeper, Steve Mandanda, could only beat out a dangerous Clement Grenier free-kick and Gourcuff was on hand to convert the rebound.
Mandanda was a busy man in the latter stages of the first half, notably making a great save to deny Milan Bisevac in the 43rd minute, but he could not prevent Lyon from conceding again in the 74th minute.
Alexandre Lacazette played a brilliant one-two with Gourcuff before squaring for Gomis to finish and seemingly put the result beyond doubt.
However, Marseille came from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the last meeting between the two at the same venue last month and they were given hope of forcing extra time when Jimmy Briand handled inside the area in the 89th minute.
Gignac sent Anthony Lopes the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick, but this time Lyon held on.
Earlier, Nantes got the better of Nice in a seven-goal thriller, triumphing 4-3 at the Stade de la Beaujoire.
Nice won at the same venue in the French Cup earlier this month after a brilliantly struck Didier Digard free-kick put them in front in the first half.
Serbian striker Filip Djordjevic scored twice in four minutes at the start of the second period to turn the tie around, only for Timothee Kolodziejczak to head Nice level again.
Oswaldo Vizcarrondo put Nantes back in front, but when Dario Cvitanich made it 3-3 in the 85th minute, extra time loomed.
Yet, moments later, a brilliant Serge Gakpe strike won it for Nantes.
They are joined in the semi-finals by second-tier side Troyes, who ran out surprising 3-1 winners against last season’s French Cup finalists, Evian.
Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain won 3-1 away to Bordeaux on Tuesday, goals from Javier Pastore, Adrien Rabiot and Blaise Matuidi taking Laurent Blanc’s side through to the last four and keeping alive their dream of a domestic treble.