In the opening game of the Toulouse International Cup reigning UEFA Champions League winners Olympique Lyon defeated Liverpool Ladies 6-0.
Following an hour-long delay due to missing oxygen – that led to incredible scenes of a man running the oxygen canister into the stadium for it to be carried in held aloft by tournament official – there were early flashes of Lyon’s predatory instincts in front of goal once the game got underway.
Ada Hegerberg, who by her standards had had a quiet European Championships for Norway earlier in the summer, stalking Reds captain Gemma Bonner as the skipper safely seen a through ball into the arms of Siobhan Chamberlain.
When Liverpool were able to string a series of passes together they looked to build on their confidence, Laura Coombs a stand out in the middle fighting for every ball and constantly looking for opportunities to drive the ball forward.
One such run from the number-eight was halted in it’s tracks by France captain Wendie Renard while a long, threatening ball forward intended for Natasha Harding was instead won by Sarah Bouhaddi.
Alex Greenwood was also getting forward up the left flank; winning a header inside the Liverpool half that Jess Clarke was able to steer back into her path as she bombed up the wing yet her cross was headed away before it could reach a red shirt.
Lyon took the lead inside ten minutes and from the first set piece of the tie, a move that was initially cleared off the goal line by Ashley Hodson yet Hegerberg fired Lyon ahead after Camille Abily swung the ball back into the area.
Liverpool continued to enjoy flashes of possession however the half would turn into an array of ‘almost chances’ for the Reds; a long throw from Kate Longhurst knocked on by Clarke for Harding to give chase, another Longhurst throw nearly culminating in Weir picking out Hodson and Bonner a millimetre away from beating Renard to a Greenwood corner.
Harding and Weir also combined to offer Clarke a shot at goal – one caught by Bouhaddi – while Weir saw a free kick sail over the crossbar.
Meanwhile at the opposite end of the pitch Lyon looked more and more likely to double their lead, Mylaine Tarrieu skipping in from the left and looking to slip the ball to Hegerberg but Chamberlain off her line to gather.
Hegerberg would make it two at the midway point of the half, converting a cross that had been sent in from the right.
From there Liverpool had to defend resolutely to ensure it remained two going in for the break. Coombs twice cleared up as the Reds came under pressure at the back from sustained attacks and Chamberlain holding onto Eugenie Le Sommer’s stinging volley on the stroke of half-time.
Liverpool manager Scott Rogers, heading into his second full season as Reds boss, made one change for the second half with Niamh Charles in for Ashley Hodson in a straight swap.
Charles was immediately involved in the thick of the action, turning away from her marker to battle past a number of Lyon shirts and the England youth international was unlucky not to find Weir after her hard work.
With the first clear cut chance of the second half Lyon extended their lead to three. UEFA Women’s Footballer of the Year nominee Dzsenifer Marozsan had been flown in by helicopter from Monaco following the awards yesterday and made her first impression on the game minutes after being introduced by setting up Le Sommer, who side footed the ball into the back of the net.
The French side continued to look hungry for more goals, Le Sommer looking for Hegerberg who at this point was after a hat trick but would thrice be denied by Bonner.
On sixty minutes Marozsan and Le Sommer made for a deadly combination once more as the German played in the French forward for Lyon’s fourth goal, and Le Sommer teed up Melvine Mallard for the fifth.
A welcome introduction came with eight minutes remaining as the Reds European Champion Shanice van de Sanden took to the pitch, the Dutch winger announcing her return with a shot at goal as she wriggled away from the central defender yet Bouhaddi held onto her strike.
There was time for one more Lyon goal, Marozsan herself getting amongst the scorers with an unstoppable free kick in the eighty-seventh minute.
In Lyon the Reds came up against tough opponents, yet it must be noted that for Liverpool this was just their third game of pre-season following wins over Fylde and Watford.
The Reds were beaten by a worthy victor earlier this evening – a side widely considered to be the best in women’s football – and as such it is a result that is not worth obsessing over, however one that will provide, as Siobhan Chamberlain tweeted, lessons worth learning for Liverpool’s young squad.
LIVERPOOL LADIES: Chamberlain, Longhurst (Johnson), Bonner (C), Stoney (Fletcher), Greenwood, Ingle, Coombs, Weir, Clarke (van de Sanden), Hodson (Charles (Rathburn)), Harding
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Laura Coombs