© AP, Dec 08, 2011

No unusual betting in Lyon's win over Dinamo

PARIS(AP) An investigation into Lyon's unlikely 7-1 victory over Dinamo Zagreb failed to turn up any unusual betting patterns, and even UEFA said Thursday it found nothing suspicious about the outcome.

ARJEL, France's online gambling regulator, routinely looks into ''atypical'' scorelines, but said it found nothing out of the ordinary - either in the total amount gambled online with French operators, the number of bets, their spread, or in how odds evolved during the game.

The lopsided result helped Lyon advance to the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday. That, combined with the apparent ease with which it scored some of its goals, sparked talk that the match may have been fixed.

Ajax, the team that was eliminated on goal difference after losing to Real Madrid 3-0, asked for a UEFA investigation into Lyon's match.

''By asking a number of open questions, we at least expect to get a clear reaction from their side,'' Ajax interim director Martin Sturkenboom said. ''Doing nothing is not an option. This way, we protect our position for the future should something irregular surface.''

UEFA's gambling fraud detection system, which taps into information from more than 400 betting companies and monitors 29,000 games per season, is designed to spot telltale suspicious gambling patterns that could point to match-fixing.

''For the time being this system has not shown any irregular betting patterns around (Wednesday's) games or their outcome that would justify any enquiry on that front,'' UEFA said.

''UEFA also pays a lot of attention to the sporting behavior on the pitch and we are currently waiting to receive the reports of the referee, referee observer and match delegate to see if, in their opinion, something suspicious might have happened. If there is anything in these reports that could raise a doubt, UEFA may then charge a disciplinary inspector to investigate the matter. But there is nothing at this stage that would justify doing so.''

For some, suspicions were aroused by an apparent wink that Dinamo defender Domagoj Vida appeared to direct at Bafetimbi Gomis as he helped the Lyon forward pluck the ball out of the net after Lisandro scored the French team's fifth goal.

''I have no doubts whatsoever about the integrity of the match or the competition,'' UEFA President Michel Platini said after an executive committee meeting in Venice, Italy. ''I believe in this competition and I believe in the integrity of the players in this competition.''

ARJEL's regulatory powers over online gambling in France include combating fraud. The agency said probing matches that, for whatever reason, are deemed to be suspicious is one of its duties.

Lyon said in a statement on its website that ARJEL was simply following its procedures by carrying out postgame checks.

''The club totally approves of this action which is undertaken whenever a sporting result is considered atypical,'' Lyon said.

It also appeared to frown on suspicious mutterings about the result, saying it ''regrets that comments are not being limited to the sporting aspect of an incredible exploit both for Olympique Lyonnais and for French football.''

In Croatia, Dinamo issued a statement describing speculation about the result as ''shameful, malicious and tendentious.''

''(It's) a defeat that was hard to imagine,'' Dinamo said, noting that coach Krunoslav Jurcic was fired because of it. ''A team that was more powerful, superior in numbers and had greater motivation ... won yesterday.''

Dinamo midfielder Jerko Leko was sent off in the 28th minute for collecting two yellow cards in quick succession. Lyon failed to score before that and even trailed 1-0 in the first half before its unlikely comeback.

Gomis led the rout with four goals, including a seven-minute hat trick - the fastest ever in the Champions League. Besides Lisandro, Maxime Gonalons and Jimmy Briand also scored.

Because only a win and a deluge of goals would do it, Lyon looked extremely unlikely to qualify ahead of Ajax in Group D. Lyon coach Remi Garde was quoted as saying that qualification was ''unimaginable.''

The front-page headline of French sports daily L'Equipe on Thursday was ''Miraculous!''

Ajax needed only a draw at home in the other Group D match against a below-strength Real Madrid to qualify ahead of Lyon. Instead, it lost 3-0. Ajax coach Frank de Boer said Dinamo could have made it harder for Lyon to pull off its stunning feat.

''I know that if you are down to 10 men, as they were after a half hour, I think, that if you play 4-4-1 and you are 1-0 up then you can make it very hard for your opponent,'' De Boer said. ''I've heard that the goals were very easy. But we have to look to ourselves. We didn't do well enough. We should have got a minimum of a point and we didn't.''


Associated Press writers Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Daniella Matar in Venice, Italy, contributed to this report.

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