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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

Lyon win after Benrahma comes off... but would Moyes perhaps not still be in his job had he kept the Algerian?

By Alessandro Schiavone at London Stadium

Saïd Benrahma had just scored the equalizer in Lille when his manager Bruno Lage surprisingly hooked him with 25 minutes to go.

Yet a decision that was first met with incredulity by everyone inside the Stade Pierre Mauroy proved to be a master stroke with hindsight. Quite possibly even a stroke of luck for some and a vindicated call for Lage himself who may have had to develop a siege mentality for the pressers later on otherwise.

Lyon ended up winning the contest 4-3 despite trailing with two minutes of normal time left.

Lage's triple substitution had already been pre-arranged long before the Algerian put Lyon back on track. Off went the West Ham loanee, Correntin Tolisso and Nemanja Matic and on came Rayan Cherki, Malick Fofana and Orel Mangala.

Impressively Fofana, who took Benrahma's place on the left of Lyon's attacking 4-3-3, cashed in on the tiring Lille defenders as he scored one and set one up.

Yet had that move not paid off, the critics would have been on Lage's backs for days to come. Why on earth would an offensive player brimming with new-found confidence and momentum be taken off with his team in need of goals? Lyon had to win to still be in contention for Europe via the league. In that case they are not obliged to see off PSG in the Coupe de France final in this ground in little less than three weeks. And they are. Staggeringly but they are.

Goals often have the power to erase an abject display hence many questioned what Lage was doing.

But as far as Benrahma goes, it should not be forgotten that he was off his game and a personified handbrake for Lyon's attacks. He did nothing but score.

Easily dispossessed, a failure to create numerical superiority with his attempted dribbles leading nowhere and regularly flagged offside, this was a mediocre display West Ham supporters grew all too familiar with in recent times.

But everything will be forgiven now as the peach of his goal after a smart combination with ex-Arsenal star Lacazette proved crucial in Lyon's revival before Fofana and Mama Balde turned the game on its head late on.

Whether Benrahma still has a future under new boss Julen Lopetegui at London Stadium remains to be seen.

Yet you just wonder whether the departing David Moyes wouldn't still be in job next term had he not decided to cut his losses on the player in January.

The Hammers were short of options off the bench and there's an acceptance that someone of the Algerian's quality, flamboyancy and energy would have made a huge difference against Leverkusen's tiring and retreating defenders in the game that eventually sealed Moyes' fate.

So Moyes dig his own grave?


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