Alexandre Lacazette’s second-half goal gave Lyon a glimmer of hope of Champions League progress as they beat Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 at Stadion Maksimir.
France international Lacazette struck after 72 minutes to break the resolve of a Dinamo defence that had frustrated a below-par Lyon side on Tuesday.
The result means last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up can still challenge for second place in Group H if they beat group leaders Sevilla in the final round of group games, but they would need to win by two clear goals and a place in the Europa League looks a more likely destiny for them.
Bruno Genesio will need more from his men if they are to overturn Sevilla than they showed in Croatia, where it was the young Dinamo players who impressed more than the likes of Lacazette, Mathieu Valbuena and Maxime Gonalons.
Dinamo are guaranteed to finish bottom of the group after failing to earn a point from five games, but they played with pride in their final home game in European competition this season.
Ivaylo Petev’s youthful side knew the Champions League spotlight would soon be moving away from them and they took the opportunity to express themselves in the early stages.
Amer Gojak danced through the Lyon defence before Ante Coric fired a shot just over the crossbar and moments later Mario Situm hit a deflected, dipping effort that Anthony Lopes had to dive backwards to save.
Domagoj Pavicic drew another smart stop from Lopes with a shot across the face of goal, but as the game wore on Lyon showed their quality and Valbuena linked up with Rafael to carve out a chance for Jordan Ferri, who lashed a fierce effort onto the crossbar to give the home side a scare.
Lyon ramped up the pressure as half-time approached and it was only the quick reactions of Dinamo captain Josip Pivaric that kept Maxwel Cornet’s shot on the turn from breaking the deadlock, before Gojak spurned a chance at the other end with a close-range header, while Lopes was alert to save at the feet of Angelo Henriquez.
Lyon played a higher defensive line after the break, and Dinamo’s attacking threat was weakened by an injury to Coric that forced the playmaker out of the game.
But Bruno Genesio’s side struggled to turn their second-half dominance into chances and the Lyon coach sent on Corentin Tolisso and Nabil Fekir as he sought a potentially priceless winning goal.
The substitution energised Lyon and just over five minutes later Rafael latched onto a throughball and crossed for Lacazette to poke home the easiest of goals from close range.
Lacazette’s goal proved enough to give Lyon the win, and the news of Juventus’ 3-1 win over Sevilla set up a tense tie against the Spaniards at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
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