Fekir leads Lyon into Coupe quarter-finals

AFP, PARIS

Fri, Feb 09, 2018 - Page 16

Nabil Fekir’s penalty on Wednesday helped Olympique Lyonnais beat Montpellier Herault 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France for the first time since 2012.

Maxwel Cornet caught goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte by surprise to give the visitors an early lead, only for Jonathan Ikone to quickly lash in an equalizer.

However, Fekir grabbed his 20th goal of the season with a 27th-minute spot-kick that proved to be the winner, leaving Montpellier coach Michel Der Zakarian fuming after Fekir was adjudged to have been fouled by Pedro Mendes.

“The penalty? Often big teams are rewarded or favored,” the Armenian said. “When Paris [Saint-Germain], [Olympique de] Marseille, [AS] Monaco or Lyon cry, referees whistle penalties for them. We’ve had situations, [but] we haven’t had a penalty since the beginning of the season.”

Lyon move into the last eight for the first time since winning the trophy for a fifth time six years ago, bouncing back from back-to-back league defeats that have seen them slip to fourth in Ligue 1.

Coach Bruno Genesio made five changes to the side that blew a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to 10-man Monaco over the weekend, and it was Cornet who made the most of his opportunity by giving them a 13th-minute lead.

The 21-year-old latched onto Bertrand Traore’s pass, and with Lecomte anticipating a cross, he fired home inside the near post with a clever first-time effort to score his fourth goal of the season.

However, Montpellier leveled just nine minutes later, as 19-year-old PSG loanee Ikone met Paul Lasne’s cutback to hammer into the top corner.

It took Lyon less than five minutes to move back in front, as Mendes clumsily bundled over Fekir in the area, with the attacking midfielder picking himself up to slot in from the penalty spot.

Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes had to make a couple of good saves in the second half, while Memphis Depay spurned an excellent chance at the other end, but the away side held on with relative ease.

Earlier on Wednesday, Stade Malherbe Caen edged out Ligue 1’s bottom club Metz on penalties after a 2-2 draw, while third-tier Chambly ended fourth-division outfit Granville’s run and Lens beat top-flight side ESTAC Troyes.