Football: Lyon stunned as Tevez rescues United
Carlos Tevez rescued a 1-1 draw for Manchester United on Wednesday in their Champions League second round first leg match
LYON, France, February 21, 2008 - Carlos Tevez rescued a 1-1 draw for
Manchester United on Wednesday in their Champions League second round first
leg match, levelling Karim Benzema's opener right at the death.
Benzema's low drive on 54 minutes appeared to have settled the first leg
encounter but Argentine substitute Tevez bundled in from close range moments
after driving a routine effort straight at French keeper Gregory Coupet.
The draw makes United hot favourites to reach the last eight following the
return in a fortnight at Old Trafford, where they beat the French in a pool
match three seasons ago after a draw at the Stade Gerland.
"I am delighted to get the draw and it gives us a a good chance to
qualify," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who said United had made a
complaint to UEFA after a Lyon fan shone a laser pen in winger Ronaldo's face
"I think it was a setback to lose the goal as at that moment we were in
control," added Ferguson.
His counterpart Alain Perrin lamented the sucker punch.
"Unfortunately we couldn't hold out to the end and now we are behind having
conceded the away goal," said the former Portsmouth boss.
"We have given ourselves a lot to do," admitted scorer Benzema.
After a first half in which United had comfortably held their hosts at
arm's length Lyon came out fighting after the restart.
Benzema, top scorer in the French league, showed lightning quick reflexes
as he latched onto a pass into the danger zone from Jeremy Toulalan and
unerringly drove a left-foot shot low past Edwin van der Sar in the United
goal to claim his fourth goal of the tournament.
Until the 20-year-old's dramatic intervention United looked to have their
opponents' measure as they welcomed back a quartet of players rested for last
weekend's FA Cup thrashing of Arsenal.
Ryan Giggs returned to make his 100th Champions League appearance and also
take the captain's armband, while Cristiano Ronaldo, Owen Hargreaves and Paul
Scholes also returned.
United had no real early storm to weather and Ronaldo had the first chance,
firing wide on four minutes as he sought to take his European goal tally this
term to six.
But Lyon, determined to rise above patchy recent league form, soon settled
and almost drew first blood when Rio Ferdinand deflected the ball just past
his own post.
At the other end Wayne Rooney, described by Lyon coach Alain Perrin as a
"bulldozer", escaped two challenges as he embarked on a barreling run only for
Coupet to smother his shot.
Hargreaves provoked the home supporters' ire shortly before the break by
clattering into Sidney Govou, but Lyon's dead ball specialist Juninho floated
his free kick over.
Once behind, United made a change in withdrawing Giggs and Scholes for
Tevez and Nani, impressive in the win over Arsenal.
But it was Juninho, who almost doubled Lyon's lead with a free kick which
dipped just wide of van der Sar's left hand post.
Lyon began their European campaign with a home drubbing by Rangers and only
made it to the knockout stages by winning the return in Glasgow.
And the six-time French champions, who bowed out of the competition at this
same stage last year with a 2-0 home defeat to Roma, will see this result as a
huge missed opportunity.
Despite their exploits at Ibrox, Lyon's recent away form is poor with just
two points from their past five league outings.
After just protecting their unbeaten run in Europe this season, United will
now look to fulfil Ferguson's prediction that what transpires at Old Trafford
will prove decisive.