Lyon edge past Prague
Lyon made hard work of a straightforward victory over Sparta Prague in the Europa League
Last Updated: 20/09/12 11:02pm
Lyon made hard work of a straightforward victory over Sparta Prague in the Europa League, with defender Mouhamadou Dabo sent to hospital after suffering a serious head injury.
Bafetimbi Gomis spurned a host of first-half chances, but he made the eventual breakthrough just before the hour and that was followed swiftly by a crucial goal from Lisandro Lopez.
Ladislaw Krejci set up a tense finale by getting Sparta on the scoresheet late on, but Remi Garde's men held on to edge an important first win in Group I.
Leonard Kweuke was afforded the opportunity to strike wide of Remy Vercoutre's goal before Lyon initiated a relentless assault on their visitors.
Gomis swept a shot across the goalmouth and Lopez flicked Alexandre Lacazette's cross over the bar as Les Gones set up camp in their opponents' half.
Gomis arrowed a drive over the bar and forced Tomas Vaclik to fumble the ball, the Sparta goalkeeper then called into action to block a lob from the marauding French striker.
There was a lengthy delay to proceedings as home defender Dabo suffered a blow to the head and lost consciousness, eventually being sent to hospital.
The Czechs had seemingly weathered the storm but Gomis was determined to notch before the break, arriving in the box deep into first-half stoppage time to trouble Vaclik once more.
Re-energised by the half-time break, Gomis resumed terrorising Vaclik but it was Lopez who saw his daisycutter tipped around a post.
Gomis swiped over the bar and wide of the goalmouth but, in the 59th minute, he got the reward his tenacity deserved.
Clement Grenier arrowed his inswinging corner onto the head of a grateful Gomis who nodded it beyond a flailing Vaclik.
Sparta failed to regroup and allowed Gomis to turn provider two minutes later, the rangy forward steering the ball into Lopez's path for the Argentinian to finish with aplomb.
Lazacette fancied a quickfire third but was denied by Vaclik's fantastic save.
Finally awoken from their slumber, Sparta reduced the deficit in the 77th minute.
Vaclac Kadlec weaved down the left wing to supply substitute Krejci with a sweet cross which the winger tucked beyond Vercoutre.
Lyon's veteran midfielder Steed Malbranque attempted to put the result beyond doubt but Vaclik coped admirably with the former Sunderland man's piledriver.
And at the death, Lyon were very nearly made to pay for their early profligacy, but Bekim Balaj headed Krejci's pinpoint cross wide of the target.