Two things were certain on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena; Both teams were coming to play, and the weather would try it’s best to slow down fast play. Starting out of the gate, both teams looked composed and built possession through the back. Montpellier was the more aggressive of the two teams, and the French Ligue 1 Champions were rewarded early on in the 27th minute when Utaka beat three defenders and curled the ball into the upper 90.
Montpellier continued to dominate the run of play and they looked certain to go into half-time with a lead over French juggernauts Lyon. Things would change late in the half when Lyon’s Gourcuff placed a perfect cross, over one defender and onto the forehead of a waiting Gomis, who placed it in the back netting. 1-1 would be the score line at half as both teams looked to recharge in the locker room, with the weather hitting highs in the 90’s along with a stifling humidity.
The second half started out much faster. Right out of the gate both teams had great chances. I could honestly say it was one of the better soccer games I’ve seen quality-wise. In the 56th minute though, Montpellier took over as their play was far and away better and more consistent than their Lyon counterparts. A free kick was drilled right into the wall, and a subsequent handball was called in the box. Herrara stepped up for the most recent French champions and put Montpellier up 2-1.
As the crowd began to do the wave, Lyon responded. Lacazette made a great run down the sideline and put a beautiful ball in the top of the 18-yard box, Briand volleyed it first time in the back of the net making it 2-2. It stayed choppy and aggressive for the rest of the match, with a straight red card being handed to Montpellier’s Marco Estrada who really put his team in a hole with a terrible revenge tackle from behind.
Regulation time ended 2-2, and the game went straight to penalty kicks. Lyon took an early lead in the second round of PK’s, and never looked back, eventually winning a thrilling game 4-2 on final penalties. The game was full of intrigue and both teams had tons of quality.
Gourcoff won the player of the match, in front of a surprise 15,166 at Red Bull Arena. Those who weathered the literal storm got to experience some great soccer right in our backyard at Red Bull Arena.