Lyon edge Nice in first match between Ligue 1 teams in 4 months

Lyon’s Melvin Bard (right) challenges for the ball with Nice’s Pedro Brazao during the friendly match on Saturday. (AP pic)

LYON: One day short of four months after the last meeting between two French Ligue 1 clubs, Lyon beat visiting Nice 1-0 in a friendly on Saturday.

Houssem Aouar scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the fifth minute after Nice goalie Walter Benitez had fouled Moussa Dembele.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve faced a Ligue 1 opponent,” said Lyon centre-back Marcelo Guedes. “It was good to measure our level and we were physically well after four weeks of training.”

Lyon lost the last match of the 28th round of the season 1-0 away to Lille to drop to seventh, which became their final position when the season was abandoned, despite their protests, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nice had won their last game the day before 2-1 against Monaco to finish fifth.

On Saturday the friendly was played behind closed doors.

“Playing on a big pitch, even without a crowd, is very positive,” said Nice defender, Dante. “We felt a bit of adrenaline, a bit like a first game.”

Both teams started only five of the men who began their final league games.

Lyon, who face Paris St Germain in the French League Cup final on July 31, also kept Memphis Depay, who missed the final league game, on the bench.

The Dutchman and Zimbabwean Tino Kadewere each scored four goals when the club returned to action with a 12-0 win over Swiss sixth division club US Port Valais in Evian on Wednesday.

Nice, who do not have a competitive match until the next Ligue 1 season begins on Aug 22, have been busy during the enforced break recruiting five players and gave a debut to Hassane Kamara.

Nice boss Patrick Vieira made nine changes at halftime, giving teenage January signing Alexis Trouillet and Amine Gouiri, signed from Lyon on Wednesday, their club debuts.

Lyon made three changes at the break but brought on seven players, including Memphis and Kadewere, during the second half.

Lyon will warm up for the League Cup final by hosting a four-team tournament featuring Nice and Celtic and Rangers from Glasgow before travelling to Belgium to face Gent and, possibly, Anderlecht.

Like France, both Scotland and Belgian ended their league seasons early.