Suspected match-fixing in Dinamo Zagreb vs Lyon match

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France’s betting watchdog said on Thursday it was investigating Lyon‘s shock 7-1 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb, which included the fastest ever hat-trick in Europe’s premier football competition.

A spokesman for ARJEL said that the organisation was “currently carrying out checks” on the match in Zagreb on Wednesday night which gave the French side a surprise ticket to the last 16 of the tournament at the expense of Ajax Amsterdam.

The outcome has met with raised eyebrows by the Dutch team while newspapers cried foul.

“In line with any unusual activity in sporting competition ARJEL are in the process of checking if there was any abnormal activity on the level of certain soccer bets which could have been detrimental to punters,” said the ARJEL spokesman.

The result of the investigation should be known later in the day, the spokesman added.

It was a remarkable rescue for Lyon who went into their final Group D game three points behind Ajax and needing to make up a goal difference of seven if they were to reach the knockout rounds.

French international striker Bafetimbi Gomis was the star of the show, scoring four goals, including the fastest ever Champions League hat-trick.

But a number of the goals were down to glaring defensive and goalkeeping errors.

Real Madrid and Lyon qualified for the last sixteen, while Ajax took third place in the group and will play in the Europa League.

After the match Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas admitted that their chances of advancing had been “minute” and hailed the incredible feat of his team.

And the French team issued a statement defending their “incredible exploit”.

“The club totally approves of this action undertaken when a sports result is considered unusual and regrets that the comments are not focused on the sporting aspect and an incredible exploit as much for Olympique Lyon as for all French football.”

Ajax coach Frank de Boer said: “I don’t want to talk too much about the Lyon result. I can only say it was striking. But if there were strange things going on you have to prove it.”

“None of us expected Lyon to win 1-7. When I was told the score I thought it was a joke,” admitted Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Dinamo had taken the lead in the 40th minute through Fatos Beqiraj but Lyon were level just before half-time through Gomis. Three minutes after the interval, Maxime Gonalons made it 2-1.

Gomis then completed his hat-trick to beat Blackburn Rovers’ Mike Newell’s record from 1995 for the quickest triple.

He added his third in the 52nd minute, while his fourth of the evening came in the 70th minute to make 6-1, six minutes after Lisandro Lopez had hit Lyon’s fifth.

Jimmy Briand netted the seventh of the night in the 75th minute to complete the rout and put Lyon into the last 16 for the ninth consecutive season.

Madrid-based sports daily AS said Lyon’s victory was “under a cloud of suspicion” pointing out that the French team scored six times in a half-hour spell and adding that there had been “a strange gesture of complicity”.

Dinamo sacked manager Krunoslav Jurcic within an hour of the game as the team finished without a point after conceding 22 goals over six matches, also a record since the Champions League competition started in 1992.

In a statement, the Croatian club described the speculation as “scandalous and malicious”.

“It was obvious that Dinamo was fighting after taking the lead … Dinamo ended the match with a shameless result.

“In case this speculation (of irregularities) doesn’t stop GNK Dinamo will be forced to take all possible legal measures to protect its rights.”

A 7-1 victory is one of the largest winning margins since the creation of the Champions League. In an away game only Marseille had previously achieved such a result – winning 7-0 at Slovak side Zilina in 2010.

Manchester United scored five away goals in the Champions League match at Danish club Brondby on their way to the title in 1998-99.

European football has been hit by a number of corruption scandals in recent years, including in Italy where Juventus were stripped of their Serie A league title.

French giants Marseille won the Champions League in 1993 but the gloss was later knocked off that achievement when it emerged their president Bernard Tapie had bribed Valenciennes into throwing a league game, giving them more time to concentrate on the final against AC Milan.

Marseille were stripped of the French title that season and barred from defending their European crown the following year.

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