Young Lyons - Meet the sensational six who dispatched PSG

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With an average age of barely 21, OL's midfield and attack cost less than 10% of the free-spending Ligue 1 leaders' - even without Neymar!

There were fully 93 minutes on the clock when substitute Memphis Depay drew back his right boot before sending a picture-perfect strike into the top corner of the net.

Parc OL exploded, and even the Dutchman, who marked the moment by putting his fingers in his ears, could not have been unmoved by the reaction to his dramatic winning goal against Paris Saint-Germain.

But, while it was the former Manchester United attacker who drew the plaudits and the spotlight for his matchwinner, the groundwork had been laid on by those who started.

At just 23, Depay is still a young man, yet remarkably in this Lyon side he is almost considered a veteran. 

As he watched on from the bench at kick-off, he saw a midfield and attacking unit with an average age of barely 21. 

Bruno Genesio’s young guns, though, were not merely about youthful enthusiasm, though certainly the way they tore into the league leaders from the outset showed that particular attribute was not in short supply. For long periods of Sunday’s match, this remarkable cohort actually outplayed their opponents.

There were success stories everywhere, but largely in the middle of the park, where Lucas Tousart and Tanguy Ndombele, with a combined age of just 41, snuffed out a unit that has been so dominant for the capital side.

For Ndombele, dubbed the next Michael Essien, it was a real coming of age. Signed at the start of the season from Amiens, he had impressed before being knocked to the sidelines as 19-year-old Houssem Aouar worked his way into the team. Now both have been so impressive that Genesio has been compelled to find space for each of them.

Nabil Fekir, who himself provided a game-defining moment with a stunning free-kick after two minutes, won the man-of-the-match award, yet the playmaker said: “I felt Ndombele deserved it more than me. He brought so much to the team.”

Mariano DiazNdombele Lyon Limassol

It is a measure of the youthfulness of Lyon’s side that, at just 24, Fekir is not just the captain, but a player they look to in order to bring maturity and a cool head to the team.

It is a role that he has embraced more impressively than anyone could have predicted at the start of the season, when the departure of Alexandre Lacazette had left doubts over whether this side had the ability to develop into top-three challengers so rapidly.

Just as has been the case on so many occasions previously, though, a combination of Lyon’s academy and shrewd work in the transfer window has come up trumps. 

Mariano Diaz, signed from Real Madrid for €8 million and the scorer of 13 league goals already, has proven a bargain addition, while Maxwel Cornet and Tousart debuted professionally elsewhere before being polished in Lyon.

Lucas TousartHoussam Aouar Lyon

PSG’s attack on Sunday, even without Neymar, was worth well in excess of €200m; Lyon’s whole starting midfield and attack cost them less than €20m in transfer fees. 

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas and coach Genesio have shown that it remains possible to compete with PSG if the groundwork is laid out correctly and a game plan perfectly executed. Now their challenge is to finish second in Ligue 1 and once again make a significant impression in the Europa League. 

Even if that proves beyond them this season, Lyon’s continued production of young talent remains unparalleled in France – if not in Europe. This current group have already shown that they have an eye for the spectacular. 

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