It may have taken a red card for ACF Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino to turn the match, but the Olympique Lyonnais players were just happy to have collected all three points after a combative 1-0 victory in Group E.
Lyon midfielder Miralem Pjanić struck the only goal in the 76th minute against Italian opponents who played the second half with ten men following Gilardino's dismissal for violent conduct on the stroke of half-time. Whatever the circumstances, Lyon were simply relieved to have started with a win – particularly as their next two matches are away, at Debreceni VSC and Liverpool FC.
Defender Cris summed up the mood in the Lyon camp, saying: "It's a good start. It was a hard game, a difficult game because Fiorentina are a solid side who are strong in the challenge, but we played our game. It's true that it became easier after the red card, because we were able to get on the ball more and that only helped the way we play." That said, the pressure was clearly building on the home side with fans anxious for a breakthrough which only materialised 14 minutes from time.
"It was a bit difficult towards the end, and we had to cope with the pressure," Cris conceded. "But that's the European Cup for you, you're always going to have tough matches." As for the points, the 32-year-old Brazilian international added: "It was an important victory because we've now got two away games and we need a minimum four points from them."
Fellow Brazilian Ederson, a late substitute in midfield, shared his view of the game, saying: "The sending-off changed things because we got more space and because Gilardino is a difficult player to keep under wraps. We kept the ball moving in the second half but it's a bit worrying when time is running out, you're creating chances but not scoring. However, we kept calm and scored at the right time."
Match-winner Pjanić downplayed his contribution. "I'm happy to have scored, but it was down to the team," the 19-year-old Bosnian international said. "We had to win at home because this is not an easy group, but we managed it and 1-0 was enough." Sparing a final thought for the man he beat, Fiorentina's Sébastien Frey, he added: "We could have scored two or three more but we had a very good keeper in front of us."
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