The French outfit will travel to Cyprus boasting a narrow lead thanks to a strike from one of their young stars, in what was a closely-fought contest
Lyon endured nearly an hour of frustration as they chipped away at the visiting defence without success until surprise starter Alexandre Lacazette cut in from the left wing and sent a deflected shot over Dionisis Chiotis and into the net.
APOEL’s threat as an attacking force was completely invisible, as they defended stoutly throughout, and it took them 88 minutes to muster any kind of shot at goal.
OL were doubtless prepared to face obstinate opponents, but their inability to break down a well-organised defence meant that long periods of the first half were dour, despite the hosts mustering a total of 13 shots without reply.
It took Remi Garde’s nearly 25 minutes to offer a genuine threat, with Michel Bastos’ shot from range deflected narrowly over the top. Lyon’s efforts were typically from outside the area, with the lively Lacazette drawing the best save of the opening period with a shot from the corner of the box that needed turned over by Chiotis five minutes from the interval.
After the break, the game did open up marginally, and this was to the advantage of the French outfit. Within a couple of minutes of the restart, Ederson had rounded the goalkeeper but was thwarted by Paulo Jorge, who slid back to deny the Brazil international on the line.
Lyon were just beginning to get frustrated when Lacazette sent a powerful shot into the net via Jorge’s boot, and immediately after they squandered a chance to go two up as Michel Bastos shot wide, having escaped behind the defence down his unfavoured right.
Keen to find a second goal to give them added insurance, the home side continued to threaten. Jimmy Briand, on for Lacazette, who departed immediately after his goal, crossed wonderfully for Ederson, though his header skimmed the post as it went wide.
Chances in the latter part of the match were relatively rare, though substitute Yoann Gourcuff did head a tricky chance off target from a Michel Bastos centre.
With only a couple of minutes remaining, the visitors finally managed their first shot at goal. Gustavo Manduca came off the bench and offered an effort from the edge of the box, but Hugo Lloris touched it over.
Neither side will be especially pleased nor disappointed with the 1-0 outcome, with both outfits doubtless feeling they still have a chance of qualification. It will be Lyon, though, who remain significant favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.