Quickfire goals in both halves from Paul Devarrewaere, Lenny Pintor, Mathis Cherki and Cedric Augarreau clinched the victory at the Academy Stadium, ensuring Felix Nmecha’s effort proved a mere consolation.
Though the scoreline perhaps flattered the visitors, the young Blues struggled to create chances against a well-organised, clinical French outfit.
Much of the pre-match talk had discussed City’s chances of repeating – or bettering – last year’s impressive campaign, which saw the Blues finish top of the group before clinching penalty shoot-out triumphs over Inter Milan and Liverpool to set up a semi-final with Barcelona. The Spaniards emerged victorious in a thrilling, nine-goal encounter and would go on to lift the trophy.
GALLERY: Training | Tuesday tune-up
The early exchanges int he 2018/19 opener proved cagey with both sides struggling to retain possession in weather conditions that proved extreme, even for Manchester – sheeting rain and swirling winds.
It was Lyon who settled into action first and the visitors raced into a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes.
The away side had already struck the woodwork with Hamza Rafia’s curling free-kick, but the midfielder’s second set-piece would bear fruit, as Devarrewaere powerfully headed home a pinpoint delivery at the backpost.
Two minutes later, the lead was doubled. This time, the threat came from the right, as Yaya Soumare latched onto a through-ball, beating Curtis Anderson to it, and squared for Pintor to tap into an open net.
City responded to the set-back but were unable to fashion any real chances. Keke Simmonds spurned the best chance of the first half, as Barcola Malcolm was equal to his clipped effort. The rebound fell to Benjamin Garre at a narrow angle and as the winger opted for placement rather than power, the ball lacked pace and was cleared off the line.
Half-time heralded a welcome break for the Blues, and the parting of the clouds. As the sun burst through, the hosts’ performance brightened significantly and a stirred City halved the deficit before the hour-mark.
Nmecha proved an inspired substitution with the perfect finish into the bottom corner – but the plaudits will rightly fall to architect Ian Carlo Poveda, who embarked on a sensational jinking run into the box before cutting back for the striker to convert.
Rabbi Matondo also almost made an instant impact from the bench, forcing Malcolm into a smart stop at his near post. When the ball fell kindly for Poveda, the winger thought he had levelled – only for the Lyon goalkeeper to bounce back up and somehow tip the rebound over the crossbar.
That would be the closest City came to an equaliser and Lyon wrapped the game up late on, as substitutes Cherki and Augarreau struck in the dying embers to kill any chance of a fightback.
City pressed forward in the final seconds to reduce the deficit but found the imposing Malcolm in fine form, as Lyon secured an impressive triumph.
How we lined up…
Goalkeeper Anderson was shielded by a backline of Alpha Diounkou, Colin Rosler, Nathaniel Ogbeta and Jeremie Frimpong. Claudio Gomes captained the side in the defensive midfield role, behind Tom Dele-Bashiru and Adrian Bernabe. Garre and Poveda occupied the wings, while Simmonds led the line upfront.
What it means…
Lyon top Group F on goal difference, after Hoffenheim defeated Shakhtar Donetsk in the day’s earlier kick-off, emerging victorious with a 2-1 win in Ukraine.
The Blues are next in UEFA Youth League action on Tuesday 2 October with a trip to Hoffenheim (1pm BST).
The EDS are in action on Saturday 22 September, welcoming Derby County to the City Football Academy in the Premier League 2 in a 1pm kick-off.