MONTREAL – Evan Bush used some video game scouting to step up from his backup goalkeeper’s role and help the Montreal Impact give Olympique Lyonnais a strong test.
Bafetimbi Gomis scored on Lyon’s final penalty kick Tuesday to give the reigning French Cup champions a win over Montreal following a 1-1 draw against the Major League Soccer expansion team through 90 minutes.
Aly Cissokho, Bakari Kone and Gueida Fofana scored on Lyon’s first three penalty kicks against Bush, whose goalkeeping allowed the Impact to remain tied through regulation before a Saputo Stadium-record crowd of 19,225.
“I play FIFA a lot and I was playing with them this afternoon, and then I come on the field and I’m playing against them so that’s kind of a surreal feeling,” Bush said. “It was good to see a packed house there and hopefully they felt like they got their money’s worth because, 1-1, and then the penalty shootout, it was an exciting and entertaining atmosphere there tonight.”
In backing up starter Donovan Ricketts, Bush has appeared in only one of Montreal’s 23 MLS regular season games to date, a 3-0 loss in Washington, D.C., on June 30.
“Donovan’s our guy and it’s never easy being an expansion goalie but we know how talented Donovan is and how experienced he is and he’s still our guy, but Evan certainly did well tonight,” Impact coach Jesse Marsch said.
Sinisa Ubiparovic and Calum Mallace scored after the Impact failed to convert their first two opportunities and Jimmy Brian put Lyon’s fourth attempt wide before Gomis sealed the win.
“I think it was a very good game, a good entertainment for the spectators,” Lyon coach Remi Garde said. “It was a bit different from my point of view. I would have liked that my team conceded less chances, especially in the first half.”
Jeremy Pied put Lyon up 1-0 when he scored 28 minutes in.
Andrew Wenger drew Montreal even at 1-1 in the 39th minute. Bush made a number of remarkable saves to allow the Impact to draw through 90 minutes.
Olympique Lyonnais played its final game leading up to Saturday’s Trophee des Champions. Lyon will face French Ligue 1 champions Montpellier HSC at Red Bull Stadium in Harrison, N.J.
“We needed a tough opposition and I think that we had it today,” Garde said.
The 17th edition of what has become the traditional opening game of the French soccer season will be contested on foreign soil for the fourth year in a row, beginning with Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in 2009.
“They were a good opponent with very good players and even though it was a friendly there was pretty good intensity,” Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said. “It was a nice game.”
Alessandro Nesta made his Montreal debut and Nelson Rivas returned for the Impact after missing seven MLS regular season games because of an abdominal injury.
Nesta, a member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup championship team, signed with Montreal on July 5.
“He’s a guy that brings a level of confidence to our team because he’s smooth and easy, but he also now communicates, talks, moves the line well, talks to the midfielders in front of him,” Marsch said.
“So I think that his overall presence means that now the whole team is a little bit clearer as to what’s going on around him, both by the decisions and plays he makes on the ball, or defensively, and by the way he communicates and understands what’s going on in the game. It’s going to make us smarter and stronger.”
The four-time Serie A defender of the year played 63 minutes, picking up a yellow card in the first half, before he was replaced by Matteo Ferrari, who also returned from injury.
“It was a nice feeling and I think all of the three players — me, Nelson and Alessandro — got ready to help the team right now,” Ferrari said. “So we have just started and I don’t know if we’ll have the chance to play all the three together, ‘The Big Three,’ as they say, but we’ll see. The most important thing is the team so we’ll see how the coach wants to make the defence play, but for sure we are ready.”
Bush made at least five big stops over the course of the game, including a couple of strong saves to deny two of Lyon’s earliest scoring opportunities.
The Impact goalkeeper charged forward to smother Jimmy Briand’s attempt to chip a pass through the middle to Lisandro Lopez 10 minutes in.
Bush made a spectacular save in the 19th minute, leaping up to get his hand on Briand’s header off a Pied free kick.
He had little chance on Pied’s goal, a strong drive into the bottom right side of the goal teed up by a soft touch pass back by Lisandro Lopez at the top of the box.
“The way he hit it, it’s a world-class shot,” Bush said. “Lower corner and just whizzing across the grass so that’s a great hit. I can’t really be too angry about giving that one up.”
Wenger, who played for the first time since June 20, was front and centre in several Impact scoring chances before he delivered the tying strike 11 minutes after Pied’s goal.
The Montreal forward forced Lloris to make a diving stop on his shot in the 24th minute.
He set up first-half scoring opportunities by Justin Mapp and Marco Di Vaio before tying the game with a left-footed drive into the top left corner of the goal.