If Lyon wants to challenge for the French league title it must learn how to defend, because frailties at the back were again glaringly exposed in a 3-1 home loss to Bordeaux on Saturday.
Long-serving Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas watched glum-faced from the stands as former France winger Jeremy Menez scored the third goal in the 90th minute, by which point many fans were already leaving their seats. At the final whistle, goalkeeper Anthony Lopes sat slumped against the goalpost with his head in his hands.
Top scorer Alexandre Lacazette was involved in the move that led to Aldo Kalulu giving Lyon a second-minute lead.
Then it all started to go wrong.
Striker Malcolm equalized, and Lyon’s marking was awful when Gregory Sertic headed in to make it 2-1 in the 71st. Just moments earlier, Lyon went down to 10 men when captain Maxime Gonalons was red-carded for a heavy challenge on Malcolm.
The loss follows a defeat away to Dijon in the previous round, where Lyon led 2-1 before losing 4-2.
But the warning signs were already there when Lyon lost 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions Trophy, France’s traditional preseason opener.
Still, when Lyon won its opening two league games of the campaign – with Lacazette scoring five goals – this raised expectations that it could challenge for the league eight years after winning the last of its seven straight French titles. The signing of center half Nicolas N’Koulou from Marseille was supposed to improve the defense, but the Cameroon international has struggled and was dropped for Saturday’s match.
To compound the defeat, midfielder Rachid Ghezzal was booked for diving late on as he claimed a penalty and Lacazette limped off before the end of the game.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux’s win moved it provisionally up to first place ahead of Saturday’s later matches.
On Friday, PSG drew 1-1 at home to Saint-Etienne, having 3-1 lost away to Monaco in the previous round.