Real Madrid secured an important 0-2 win against Olympique Lyon in the complicated Stade Gerland in France on Wednesday evening. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brilliant free-kick goal to put Madrid up at the 24 minute mark in the first half, and doubled his tally--and scored his 100th goal--by converting an obvious penalty. In reality, the match wasn't particularly complicated for los blancos despite a few sporadic scoring chances for the French side: Real Madrid dominated more or less from start to finish, only being pressed towards the end of the halves.
Things started well for Madrid when a series of brilliant passes from Mesut Özil, Angel di María and Cristiano Ronaldo set Karim Benzema, the ex-Lyon man, free on goal in the 9th minute. Unfortunately for the Spaniards, Lyon goalkeeper Lloris was up to the challenge, and he swatted away the one-on-one. This marked the first of a couple of fantastic saves from the Frenchman, though eventually Real Madrid would not be denied.
In the 24th minute, Gomis fouled Benzema at the top of the box, and Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to take the kick. He smashed a low, curling ball to Lloris' right, and this time the Frenchman couldn't do anything about it. 0-1. Madrid controlled the game from then on, only allowing a tough Lyon rally towards the end of the second half.The second half proceeded more or less like the first, with Real Madrid dominating the match, with possession and forward psses--unleashing blistering counter attacks when needed, and otherwise using the flanks to great effect. Lyon rallied a couple of times, though Casillas and the Madrid defense were equal to each effort.
Lyon came out well at the beginning, with a couple of strong attacks down the flanks: Casillas stopped a free header from Koné within a few minutes of the start of the half, while Gomis had a chance denied only minutes later. Sami Khedira picked up a relatively dubious yellow card early on, while Lassana Diarra picked one up in the 57th minute for stopping a counter attack.
That brings me to Lass: he played an incredibly good match, staying with the French attack on defense, and pushing up dangerously on offense. He looked comfortable and well-adjusted at Sergio Ramos' right back spot, and it wouldn't shock me if Mourinho continued to use him there, especially as Madrid's acceptance of Ramos' role in the center has turned into a love affair.
Cristiano Ronaldo secured a penalty for Real Madrid in the second half just as Lyon was looking particularly dangerous. A couple of strong OL attacks lead to a brilliantly-quick counter attack, which ended up with Mesut Özil ceding the ball to Ronaldo, who was fouled obviously as he moved around Dabo in defense. Marca notes that CR7 "let himself go down" at the "first sign" of Dabo's foot, but this author thinks they're looking to stir up controversy.
Ultimately, this result means that los blancos will effectively be able to take the next two matches off, as they have--barring a major unraveling--assured themselves of first place in the group. Ajax won their match against Dinamo Zagreb Wednesday, but this has almost no effect on Real Madrid, who now have 12 points out of a possible 12 in their group.
Madrid are also looking more and more like the continental power they once were, and they are giving off some serious "we're the favorites here" vibes. But, as can happen so easily in Cup competitions, a referee, a clot of dirt, or even a single misplayed match could cost los blancos a shot at their elusive "decima," or tenth European cup.