Battling Lyon through to Champions League last 16
Olympique Lyonnais came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with RB Leipzig on Tuesday and qualify for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, with Memphis Depay’s late strike proving crucial.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
UEFA Champions League Group G
Olympique Lyonnais 2 - 2 RB Leipzig
Lyon knew a win at home to the already-qualified German side at the Groupama Stadium would take them through as Group G winners, while a point might also be enough depending on the result in the night's other game. However, the evening got off to a dreadful start for Rudi Garcia's men.
English referee Anthony Taylor gave Leipzig a penalty following a VAR review after Anthony Lopes took out Yussuf Poulsen in the box, and Emil Forsberg stepped up to convert the spot-kick (9').
Things got worse for Lyon just after the half-hour mark as Lucas Tousart conceded another penalty when he crashed into Christopher Nkunku in the area. This time the referee had no need to review the images, and it was Timo Werner who stepped up to score from the spot (33').
Aouar offers hope
Lyon were now right up against it, but they were given hope when Houssem Aouar curled in a superb strike on his right foot into the far corner five minutes into the second half, and further good news emerged from Lisbon with the news that Zenit Saint Petersburg were losing to Benfica.
Depay was denied on more than one occasion by visiting goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi before the Dutchman came up trumps with eight minutes remaining, holding off Marcelo Saracchi and firing in on the turn after Moussa Dembélé had helped on Aouar's cross (82').
There was still time for a late scare as OL needed Jason Denayer to make a vital block in the 86th minute and then Fernando Marçal to produce similar heroics, thereby denying Leipzig the win. In the end, this result suited both sides, with the Germans topping the group and Lyon leapfrogging Zenit to finish second after Benfica beat the Russians 3-0 in Portugal.
THE PLAYER: Memphis Depay
The Dutchman was clearly wound up and led by example in the second half before scoring the vital equalising goal that takes OL through to the last 16 for the second year running. It was his fifth goal in this season's Champions League.
THE STAT: 11
Lyon have now qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League on 11 separate occasions, out of 13 attempts, since the 2003-04 campaign.