Jimmy Briand and Yoann Gourcuff netted late on, as 10-man Lyon beat Saint Etienne in a tempestuous encounter at Stade Gerland.
Despite playing a man down for most of the second half, Olympique Lyonnais secured a 2-0 victory Saint Etienne in the Rhone derby at the Stade Gerland in Ligue 1 on Saturday night.
A tempestous encounter saw Mohamadou Dabo sent off after halftime for a rash challenge on Banel Nicolita. Despite various bad-tempered tackles and challenges, late goals from Jimmy Briand and Yoann Gourcuff settled the match in favour of the hosts.
Remi Garde's men had beaten les Verts in the Coupe de la Ligue earlier this week, with Briand and Michel Bastos securing a 2-1 cup success, and with minimal changes from both sides ahead of the encounter, the derby looked to have kept its element of competitiveness.
It didn't in the first few minutes, though, dictated with a lack of a fast-paced tempo in the opening few minutes. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a well-earned chance go just wide, while Hugo Lloris in the Lyon goal was bailed out when Paulão failed to connect with a header.
Lyon finally began to find their rhythm towards the closing stages of the first half, and almost took the lead. Alexandre Lacazette and Yoann Gourcuff both combined well to shrug off the challenge of Jeremy Clement before setting up Bafetembi Gomis, but the striker fired his side's best chance of the half straight at the goalkeeper.
Despite the late surge from the hosts, Saint Etienne were the better side in a first half which might've been short on gilt-edged chances, but certainly abundant in attacking quality as the sides trudged back into the dressing room equal at 0-0.
The start of the second half mirrored that of the first, but a moment of controversy was to provide the spark. Aly Cissokho made way for Mohamadou Dabo during halftime, with Garde casting one eye on the Champions League tie at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday. Within six minutes, Dabo was given a straight red card by referee Tony Chapron for a rash challenge on Banel Nicolita - in which a burst soccer ball was the end result - leaving the hosts with a numerical disadvantage.
That dismissal turned the match on its head from a physical perspective, with fouls and rash challenges becoming prevalent in an increasingly physical game as both sides searched for the game-changing opening goal.
Lacazette wasted a good chance, shooting straight at the goalkeeper after some nice work from Gomis, a move that characterized Lyon's wasteful finishing to that point.
An already tense encounter threatened to boil over with Paulão guilty of an elbow on Briand. Minutes later, Bakary Sako appeared to be tripped in the area by Anthony Reveillere, and on both occasions referee Chapron waved play on to the apparent unhappiness of the supporters inside the Stade Gerland.
Chances proved to be at a premium towards the end of the second half, but it would be Lyon which would make a mockery of its tactical disadvantage to break the deadlock. From a corner, Briand headed in after good work by Gomis to seemingly snatch three points after 81 minutes.
Christophe Galtier's men almost moved back onto level terms had it not been for a fine Lloris save, with Aubameyang's powerful header thwarted by the Lyon custodian's great reflexes. Gourcuff propped up the scoreline in the 91st minute, disposessing Paulão and landing a great chip over Ruffier and into the net to settle the game.
Remi Garde's men move to third, six points behind leader PSG. Lyon next plays Real Madrid at home in the Champions League on Wednesday. Following the defeat, Saint Etienne moves down to eighth.