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Moment of the Weekend: Four for Lacazette as late penalty redeems Lyon, himself

Non-stop action. Great goals. Controversies galore. Sensational passes. Unreal drama. European football rarely lacks for talking points after any given weekend of football, but with so much happening it can often be hard to focus on the biggest moments.

ESPN India attempts to single out one moment from all the action across Europe’s top 5 leagues (league action only) that lit up the weekend.

This weekend, we pick Alexandre Lacazette’s injury-time penalty (his fourth goal of the game) that saw Lyon defeat Montpellier.

A penalty? In a weekend that has seen a truckload of great goals (see Hernandez, Theo for instance), why pick a penalty? Well, because many a times it’s not the moment itself, but everything that’s led up to it, that surrounds it which makes it so special — and this is one of those times. It’s these different elements that surround this goal that make it our moment of the weekend.

The identity of the scorer:

Alexandre Lacazette scoring penalties isn’t a new thing. But as anyone who witnessed Lacazette’s dismal final season in the Premier League will tell you, him keeping his nerve and scoring a late winner hasn’t been the guaranteed affair it was once upon a time. In that last season with Arsenal, he scored four goals in the league (in 30 appearances), and so struggling for goals and confidence he went back home, to his boyhood club Lyon. He was hoping to rediscover the kind of goalscoring touch that had brought him the attention of some of the world’s biggest clubs.

The time of the winner:

90′ + 10′

Ah, interesting now, isn’t it? The time, though, is just the tip of the drama.

The set-up for the climax:

You see, the 100th minute winner made the score 5-4 for Lyon against Montpellier… but going into the 55th minute, they had been trailing 1-4.

The game strangely took a while to get going. Lacazette gave Lyon the lead in the 32nd minute with a neat finish: Rayan Cherki pinging one to the back-post from just inside the box, Bradley Barcola stretching and keeping it in play, Lacazette somehow controlling it with his chest, before smashing it into the near corner on the half-turn. Suddenly, things livened up, and then some, as the next 23 minutes became the Elye Wahi wonder-show.

First came a sliding finish after running off the shoulder of the last man. Then, a 20m solo run and a deflected finish into the far corner. After that, a penalty won and converted by himself. And lastly, a goal where he rounded the goalkeeper and nutmegged the covering defender. 23 minutes, four goals, Elye Wahi would have felt this was it: the greatest evening in his professional career.

Except, Alexandre Lacazette wasn’t having any of it.

Less than four minutes after Wahi’s fourth, he slipped his marker and ran onto a lovely Barcola pass into the box to tap it in from three yards out. Dejan Lovren (another Premier League throwback!) then made it 3-4 with a header, before Lacazette stepped up again in the 82nd minute. Barcola did brilliantly to race past (and through) three down the right flank and pull it back to the edge of the six-yard box where Lacazette had timed his run to perfection (again slipping his marker with a fake run in the opposite direction): he met it first time and rifled it into the roof of the net. Equaliser.

And there was still more to come.

The penalty itself:

It was won, in the 96th minute, by Lacazette himself (after VAR intervention). Trying to get onto the end of a Cherki pass into the six-yard box, Lacazette had done that fake-run move once again to almost lose his marker, but this time Christopher Jullien was having none of it. And pulled him to the ground in a half-embrace, half-rugby tackle maneuver.

He stepped up, smashed it into the top corner after having sent the keeper the wrong way, and raced away to celebrate. Unstoppable, ice-cold, Ligue 1 top scorer.

The implications of the moment:

That fourth goal was Lacazette’s 24th of the season, his best league return (by a distance) since he left Lyon in 2016-17. It has now put him on the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts, tied with a certain Kylian Mbappe.

More importantly for Lyon, though, it keeps them in touching distance of Europe. They are now just three points off a Europa Conference League qualifying place, with four games to go.

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