LYON, France — Playing with a depleted side, Lyon relied on its homegrown players and the class of teenager Maxwel Cornet to open its Champions League campaign in style with a 3-0 defeat of Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday.
Lacking five regular starters, including striker Alexandre Lacazette, Lyon dominated the Group H match with a fine display of one-touch football. It quickly opened the scoring courtesy of Corentin Tolisso’s goal.
Jordan Ferri, who honed his skills at Lyon’s renowned academy with Tolisso, made it 2-0 four minutes into the second half as the seven-time French champions put aside their current league troubles to celebrate a first Champions League win in their new stadium.
The highly-rated Cornet, who joined Lyon last year, addressed the challenge of starting in a sole forward role and created the first chance. His astute flick from Rafael’s cross was saved by ‘keeper Adrian Semper.
Tolisso made no mistake in the 13th minute when he jumped higher than Dinamo defenders to head in another cross from Rafael to give the home side the lead.
Lyon captain Maxime Gonalons came close to extending Lyon’s lead in the 23rd when he connected with a corner from Cornet, only to direct the ball over the bar.
Lyon — which lost all three home group-stage games last season — was handed a blow soon after when Gonalons had to leave the pitch after taking a knock on his head. But it kept its lead intact despite an attempt from Jonas to surprise Anthony Lopes with a long-range shot that the ‘keeper parried away.
The 19-year-old Cornet then slipped a perfect ball to Ferri that the midfielder chipped over Semper to make it 2-0 in the 49th. Cornet turned from supplier to scorer eight minutes later after playing a slick give-and-go with Tolisso to beat Semper with the outside of his left foot.
Dinamo players were unlucky in the closing stages of the game, hitting the bar twice.