Lines of humanity penetrate all sectors of life, veins of fools’ gold threading through all aspects of the fabric of life. Farce is one such thread.
The coming together of Olympique Lyonnais and FC Girondins de Bordeaux was not a morality tale. Incompetency was rewarded. Violence and deception went unpunished. The noble mediocrity of Bordeaux, 8th prior to the match to Lyon’s 11th, were vanquished, almost by both teams’ ineptitude.
Tone was set to stun-ningly low levels in the 10th minute. Morel, the Lyon left-back, sent a cross into the box. Over the box. It ballooned, following the trajectory of a sad clown’s mouth, more disappointing the longer, and longer, it was in the air. I hyperbolise.
7 minutes later the first in a long line, too many to count, of failed Lyon attacks came, a low cross from Cornet on the right-hand side finding Lacazette, last season’s golden boy, in decent space only around eight yards out. He missed. The ball. He missed the ball with his foot, air kicking, the defender seemingly getting a nick which did more to save Lacazette’s blushes than to save his own team.
Bordeaux themselves had a half chance soon after, though really this is being generous. A cross from the left popped up off a Lyon defender’s head and Diabaté, the Bordeaux striker, in a surprising amount of space, was in prime position for an overhead kick which, really, as a striker isn’t quite the ‘prime position’ you want to be in.
Gonalons, the dead centre of the Lyon midfield, turned out to be the life of their attack for a brief spell just after the 20th minute. Twice he had good opportunities to feed a ball through the defence to Lacazette. Twice he threaded the needle. Twice the thread went straight through to the Bordeaux goalkeeper.
Lyon, who had been an incompetence that was bordering on endearing for much of the first half in attack, began to start being incompetent in defence too. Ounas in particular began to assert himself for Bordeaux, the home-side’s defenders failing to clear the ball, the bag of air bouncing between them as they gawped and grasped for a handhold.
Bordeaux were not good enough to take advantage however, Ounas getting a good chance from a left-hand cross, in space as the ball travelled over the Lyon defence, but his shot was wide of the near post. Just before half-time it seemed like the Lyon defence were refusing to play well in protest of something. I felt like joining their picket line. It was that kind of display.
In the 41st minute the home side finally put the right weight on a through ball, to the devastating effect that only exists in football (ie, they scored). Tolisso, it was this time, again to Lacazette, who took a touch around the keeper and passed it into the open net.
Lyon continued their mission for self-destruction in the second half, conspiring amongst themselves to implode a 2v1 / 3v2 breakaway. Grenier, on the ball, the largely anonymous Valbuena in front of him to his left in support, was sufficiently spooked by a returning Bordeaux defender to send his pass about twelve Valbuena’s (I dunno, 10 feet) away from its target.
Bordeaux had their best chance a few minutes later. A corner from their left swung in, finding Rolan in the kind of space that leads you to believe nobody knew he was there. He, equally bizarrely, unintentionally controlled the ball as he tried to shoot. His subsequent presumably puzzled poke at goal was blocked.
After that, it was Bordeaux’s turn to be incompetent, apparently having exported their left-hand side defensive work to an outside party who hadn’t turned up to work. Lyon had chance after chance down the right side, but couldn’t make anything worthwhile come of it.
Most of the players looked to be tiring, the end-to-end breaks slower, and Ghezzal’s introduction for Lyon showed this up, adding some spark that was inevitably slowed down whenever he passed the ball.
Debuchy watch: He put in a bad cross in the 78th minute and was substituted a couple of minutes later (presumably unrelated). The commentator, in summing up his performance, called him ‘timid offensively’.
Ferri, substituted on in the 73rd minute, embodied the mantra that the world’s a stage, choosing himself to be something of a pantomime villain in the last ten minutes. On 81 he slid in late on what could have been a 50-50 tackle if he’d been there sooner, collecting a yellow card and leaving Bein Sport (France)’s co-commentator saying, and I quote, “Oy oyoy oyoy oyoy oyoy oyoy oyoy oyoy oyoy”. Seriously, he did this. French commentary is fun.
Five minutes later he was contributing to Lyon’s raison d’être, screwing up their own attacks. Through on goal, three Bordeaux defenders in close pursuit, he took the ball wide, wide, wide of centre and then, having completed the first part of his job in preventing his own team from scoring from a good opportunity, dived unconvincingly.
His good work was in vain, however.
“No!” Bordeaux said, thrusting a Gallic finger forward at Lyon’s chest “You don’t get away with self-imploding in attack that easily!”
A largely innocuous Ghezzal cross from the right-hand side near the byline came into the six-yard box. The Bordeaux keeper jumped for it, as did Guilbert, one of their centre-backs. They collided.
The ball dropped directly in front of Lacazette, his striker’s instinct overriding the team instruction to fall on their own sword, and he poked it into the open net from two yards out.
With about 90 seconds of four minutes added time remaining, the ball broke out of the Bordeaux midfield in their own half, going out to the Lyon right-back Jallet on the right. Three Bordeaux defenders stayed back, their midfield reinforcements taking a knee, the game as good as over anyway, but they were too central. Jallet’s low square-ball went straight through them to late substitute Kalulu to score.
In reality, Lyon probably should have won around 3-0 based on the chances that they had throughout the game, but not in this way. F is for Football. F is for Farce.
[FT: Lyon 3 (Lacazette 41’, 87’, Kalulu 93’) Bordeaux 0]