LYON, France (AP) — Alexandre Lacazette notched a goal and an assist on his return to his old haunts as Lyon kicked off its French league campaign by beating promoted Ajaccio 2-1 on Friday.
Lacazette teed up Brazilian winger Tete, who opened the scoring with a first-time effort in the 12th minute.
Tete proved a thorn in the side of the Ajaccio defense. He forced goalkeeper Benjamin Leroy into a save with a dipping long-range strike in the seventh.
After Cedric Avinel fouled Tete, Lacazette doubled the lead in the 22nd from the penalty spot.
He grew up at the Lyon youth academy. He played for the first team from 2010-17 before a five-year stint in the English Premier League at Arsenal.
The hosts got in trouble after goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was sent off in the 27th for recklessly crashing into Ajaccio forward Mounaim El Idrissy. Thomas Mangani converted the subsequent penalty to pull one back in the 31st.
The French league is not known as a butchers’ league. Yet, the game suddenly became more tense and violent. Lacazette and Ajaccio forward Romain Hamouma were booked in the 32nd for their involvement in a brawl after Thiago Mendes fouled El Idrissy.
On the stroke of halftime, Ajaccio was also down to 10 men when Hamouma picked up a second yellow card for swinging an elbow into Lucas Paqueta’s face.
The second half was more civilized with just one yellow card in stoppage time.
Lyon backup goalkeeper Remy Riou preserved the win by saving Riad Nouri’s chip in the 59th and stopping El Idrissy’s angled strike in the 60th.
“There are still the fears of last season of getting hit on the fast break at the end of the game and dropping points,” Lacazette said about his team's average performance in the second half. "We are not very confident yet in the game to win and play comfortably until the end.”
Under new American owner John Textor, Lyon hopes to contend for European spots after an eighth place last season, the club’s worst finish since 1997.
On Saturday, defending champion Paris Saint-Germain visits Clermont while Strasbourg hosts Monaco.
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