Lyon qualified for the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League courtesy of a tense Friday night 2-1 defeat away to Juventus in Italy. The loan goal of the first leg scored over four months earlier by the now departed Lucas Tousart, combined with the clean sheet at home gave Lyon the platform for a defensive, counter-attacking performance in Turin that led to an unlikely upset for the Italian champions.
Lyon knew that if they could score in the Juventus Stadium then the hosts would need three, and that’s exactly what happened in the twelfth minute when Houssem Aouar went down inside the Juve box to earn a somewhat dubious penalty. Memphis Depay converted it with a beautifully executed ‘panenka’, having sent goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny the wrong way, to give Lyon a dream start.
The visitors’ attention then turned to defending as Juventus began to pile on the pressure. Anthony Lopes was again on form in the Lyon goal, although he was rounded once by Bernardeschi who looked certain to score until a superb last ditch intervention from Marcelo saved the day. Ronaldo spurned a couple of free kick opportunities before allowing Lyon old-boy Miralem Pjanic the chance to take one just before half time.
The Bosnian fired in an effort that brushed the end of the Lyon wall where Depay was trying to get out of the way. If there was any contact with Depay’s are it was minimal and entirely unavoidable but incredibly the referee and VAR officials decided to award Juventus one of the most ridiculous penalties you are ever likely to see given. Ronaldo made no mistake from the spot to level the scores.
The second half was largely one way traffic with Juventus trying to find a way through the disciplined defensive unit in front of them. They managed to do so on the hour mark when Cristiano Ronaldo found enough space on the edge of the Lyon box to fire a vicious shot past his compatriot Lopes and leave Lyon’s aggregate lead hanging by a thread.
The last thirty minutes plus six minutes of additional time seemed to last an eternity for Lyon supporters but the team held out resolutely, surviving a few close calls, notably a Ronaldo header that probably should have been scored. The introduction of Paulo Dybala looked ominous for Lyon, but the Argentinian striker was not fully recovered from an injury and limped off a few minutes later, his departure further dampening the spirit of the Italian side.
Lyon managed to break out of their own half and carry the ball towards the opposition corner flags a few times in the the closing minutes, using up valuable times and eventually clung on to progress to the quarter-finals by the narrowest of margins. Manchester City await them in Lisbon on Saturday.
Lopes – Marcal, Marcelo, Denayer, Cornet, Dubois – Guimaraes, Aouar, Caqueret – Depay, Ekambi
Subs: Andersen (Denayer 61), Reine-Adelaide (Ekambi 67), Dembele (Depay 67), Tete (Dubois 90), Thiago Mendes (Aouar 90)