It's the life of Riley for referee as Lyon fail to roar

22nd February 2007, Comments 0 comments

ROME, Feb 21, 2007 (AFP) - Roma and Lyon played out a damp squib of a 0-0 draw in rainy Rome's Olympic Stadium in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday.

ROME, Feb 21, 2007 (AFP) - Roma and Lyon played out a damp squib of a 0-0 draw in rainy Rome's Olympic Stadium in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday.

Chances, action and interest were at a premium in a dreadful game dominated by English referee Mike Riley who set a Champions League record of 11 bookings in a match dominated by fouls and diving.

However Lyon coach Gerard Houllier - whose side failed to score for the first time in this season's competition but retained their unbeaten record - was satisfied to take Roma back to Lyon all square in a fortnight's time.

"In the second-half we lacked a bit of freshness up front but I am proud of the players," said the former Liverpool and France handler.

"I would have preferred 1-1 but we will be back at the Gerland (Lyon's ground) and it will be for us to run the match."

The first half was notable only for its fractious nature with six bookings and few chances.

Roma's French centre-back Philippe Mexes was the first name in the book after only three minutes as he cynically chopped down Lyon's Brazilian playmaker Juninho.

Three more home players, two for blatant dives, followed him into English referee Mike Riley's book while two from the visitors also fell foul of Riley's strict interpretation of the laws.

Juninho almost orchestrated an early opener in the eighth minute as his dangerous in-swinging free-kick flicked off Roma midfielder Rodrigo Taddei's head and cannoned back off the post with goalkeeper Doni a helpless spectator.

Lyon were playing more like the home side than Roma and Florent Malouda had a great chance to give them the lead midway through the opening period.

Daniele De Rossi fluffed a back-pass and Malouda turned Matteo Ferrari inside out to open up a shooting position on his right foot. But the left-footed midfielder tried to turn the ball back onto his favoured side and overran it allowing Doni to snuff out the danger.

De Rossi almost made ammends as he found space in Lyon's box just after the half-hour mark but France goalie Gregory Coupet saved down low to his left and De Rossi turned out to be offside as well.

The second half was worse even than the first and it took 20 minutes for something - other than two more bookings - to happen.

In the end it was thanks probably to boredom as Doni spilled a 45-yard Juninho free-kick into the path of Brazilian Fred. Doni woke up just in time to spread himself well to block his countryman's poked effort.

Following Doni's lapse, Francesco Totti tried his luck from almost as far out but Coupet was slightly more alert than his opposite number and although he too spilled the ball, he gathered it at the second attempt.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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