MONTREAL – Olympique Lyonnais came to get a result. Montreal refused to hand it to them.
The Impact held the seven-time French champions to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night at Stade Saputo. Bafétimbi Gomis then scored the decisive penalty in the ensuing shootout.
Jérémy Pied opened the scoring after 28 minutes, combining well with Lisandro López. Impact rookie Andrew Wenger, in his first game since picking up a hamstring injury, leveled beautifully for Montreal 11 minutes later.
Though Lyon boast plenty of them, the early star was not one of Les Gones. Rather, it was debutant Alessandro Nesta, with the crowd cheering the center back’s every touch in the game’s first minutes. Nesta picked up the captain’s armband from Patrice Bernier at halftime and ended up playing 62 minutes in his first Impact game.
The French Cup holders quickly put their stamp on the game, however, forcing Evan Bush into excellent saves. The Impact ‘keeper notably made an outstanding stop in the 19th minute on a headed shot from Jimmy Briand, who is particularly renowned in France for his proficiency in such situations.
Olympique Lyonnais fans got what they had come to see in the 28th minute. López, on the edge of the penalty area, laid the ball off for Pied, whose superb low shot found the bottom right corner of the net, past Bush.
Montreal came close to equalizing in the 38th minute, as Marco Di Vaio skied Wenger’s cutback, but it took mere seconds for the youngster to get that equalizer. Bernier’s pass found the rookie, who turned past Bakary Koné and curled a beauty in the top left corner of Hugo Lloris’ net.
After the break, the game’s rhythm did not pick up until the 62nd minute, as Bush made a heroic double save on Briand and Gomis. Montreal created themselves a number of chances in the following 10 minutes, mainly thanks to Impact legend Eduardo Sebrango’s sheer enthusiasm.
Yet Gomis was not finished, and he once again tested Bush in the 75th minute with an overhead kick. The Frenchman didn’t connect properly, though, and the Impact ‘keeper saved comfortably.
Late shouts for a penalty against Sebrango were ignored, setting the stage for the penalty shootout, which Lyon won 4-2.
Montreal return to league play on Saturday at Stade Saputo against the New York Red Bulls, who are lending their Red Bull Arena to Lyon and Montpellier, with the Trophée des champions at stake, on the same day.