Champions League favourites Manchester City have made a horror start to their campaign, losing 2-1 at home to Olympique Lyon.
City were slow and ponderous for much for the match and were made to pay by a quicker and hungrier Lyon side as first-half goals from Maxwell Cornet and Nabil Fekir set the Ligue 1 side on their way to a famous win.
Bernardo Silva gave City hope with a second half strike, but the expected fightback never materialised from Pep Guardiola’s men.
AS IT HAPPENED: Man City 1 Lyon 2
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There was a strange lack of intensity from the Premier League champions all night, who had manager Guardiola watching high up in the stands as he served a touchline ban.
Guardiola took the opportunity to shuffle his side with John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan coming in for Nicolas Otmamendi and Leroy Sane. Sergio Aguero was only fit enough for the bench after injuring his ankle against Fulham so Gabriel Jesus was the lone striker.
Raheem Sterling was City’s only bright spark down the left as both sides made a cagey start.
Sterling twice had dangerous balls cut out by ex-City defender Jason Denayer, Denayer was then on hand to deny Sterling a third time when he deflected the winger’s goal-bound shot. From the corner, Aymeric Laporte hit the post before Sterling then had a shot saved by Anthony Lopes.
Despite the chances, Man City were flat and were almost made to pay when Maxwell Cornet had the ball in the net but they were reprieved by a tight offside call.
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However, they failed to heed the warning and the French winger put Lyon in front two minutes later. City gave the ball the away in midfield and Nabil Fekir – who almost joined rivals Liverpool in the summer – swung in a cross which Fabian Delph inexplicably failed to clear, allowing Cornet to finish at the far post.
It was a catalogue of errors from City which would have left Guardiola pulling his hair out in the stands.
To their credit, City almost hit back and it was through Sterling once again, but his goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Delph then almost atoned for his error, but his deflected shot was smartly saved by Lopes.
Jesus then had a penalty claim waved away following a challenge from ex-Manchester United fullback Rafael.
But as the first half ticked away, Lyon doubled their lead through a wonderful strike by Fekir.
Once again, City lost the ball in their own half as Fekir picked Fernandinho’s pocket. Lyon’s captain then drove to the edge of the box and let fly with a rasping drive into the bottom corner of Ederson’s goal to put the Ligue 1 side 2-0 up.
6 – Six of the last eight instances of Manchester City conceding twice in the first half of a match at the Etihad have been in the Champions League. Theme. pic.twitter.com/itnIPpZnZE
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 19, 2018
The second half started in much the same vein with Lyon content to sit deep and strike on the counter. Despite City’s pressure, they were restricted to long-range efforts with Fernandinho and Delph sending shots wide, before Jesus forced another good save from Lopes.
However, Lyon remained largely untroubled and almost killed the game when Memphis Depay finished a sweeping counter attack, however Ederson got the smallest of touches to tip the ex-Man United’s man’s shot on the post.
Arteta had seen enough and replaced Gundogan and Jesus with Leroy Sane and Aguero and the move paid almost instant dividends. Sane showed what City had been missing when he skipped down the left and squared the ball for Bernardo Silva to finish past Lopes and halve City’s deficit.
All of a sudden City were sensing an equaliser. First Stones went close from a corner and then Aguero forced another save from Lopes.
However they couldn’t sustain the pressure and apart from one brilliant late save from Aguero, Lopes was largely untroubled in Lyon’s goal as City were left ruing their lethargic performance.