Bordeaux find vintage European form

Laurent Blanc was a relieved man after seeing his Bordeaux side finally deliver a performance befitting their championship-winning status on Tuesday night.

The reigning Ligue 1 champions put a string of below-par displays behind them to register a 1-0 away win over Olympiakos in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie. Before that Les Girondins had not been at their best in domestic competition, but the form of Blanc's side in Europe this season has been exceptional, with the win over Olympiakos extending their unbeaten record in the competition – even though they were paired with Juventus and Bayern Munich in the group stage.

The return to continental action appears to have galvanised Blanc's men, and the Bordeaux coach revealed his players were fired up for the encounter. "They felt strongly, I told them it was time [to deliver]," Blanc said. "We expected this performance for a long time, it was a wonderful opportunity to again become a strong team. It is encouraging for the future."

The Bordeaux centre-back Michael Ciani headed the only goal of the game on the stroke of the interval as the French side put themselves in the driving seat ahead of the second leg at Stade Chaban Delmas on 17 March.

"We stayed organised," Blanc continued. "They were dangerous to the end but we had good stability and performed well defensively."