Real Madrid vs. Olympique Lyonnais  1 - 1


The nine-times champions of Europe dominated the first-half and should have been out of sight at the break.

Cristiano Ronaldo levelled the tie when he fired in left-footed on six minutes, but the home side failed to capitalise. Lyon were a different side after the break, with several chances before Miralem Pjanic drifted in to score.

Real were in irresistible form from the outset and it seemed inconceivable that they would fail to find the net at least twice to overturn the tie.

The wait for the opening goal to level up the tie was not a long one, however, as a spirited Ronaldo surged down the left flank and surprised Lloris with a first time left-footed shot that went through the keeper's legs.

Lyon made two changes at the break and showed far more attacking intent, and Pjanic was the finisher as a clinical break saw him in space inside the area and he made no mistake with a firm shot from 12 yards.


Casillas apologises for Real Euro exit, blames players

11 March 2010 19:20

MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas apologised Thursday for his side's elimination from the Champions League at the last-16 stage for the sixth consecutive season and said the players are to blame.

"I want to apologise to the fans, but I also want them to know we will never give up. We are excited about winning the league for us and for them," he told a news conference one day after French side Lyon dumped the big-spenders out of the tournament 2-1 on aggregate.

The loss has led to renewed calls from fans for Real coach Manuel Pellegrini, who joined the club from Villarreal in June 2009, to be fired but Casillas said the Chilean manager had the support "of all the players."

"It's easy to make him the target, but we are the ones to blame," he said.

"We have to move on. The team seems sad to me. The easy thing to do would be to give up. We are all disappointed, team, club and fans alike, but we want to get over this by winning the league title.

"When you've won more league titles than Champions Leagues you miss what you don't have. It's like having a girlfriend; you want to be free when you have one, but once you are, you want to have a girlfriend again."

The nine-time European champions have not won Europe's most-coveted trophy since 2002 when they beat Germany's Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in Glasgow.

They will face Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday.


Puel: We deserved to go through

11 March 2010 10:47

(GSM) - On Wednesday night, Olympique Lyon sensationally dumped Spanish giants Real Madrid out of the Champions League.

Lyon boss Claude Puel admitted his side was a bit lucky in the first half but that they deserved to go throught to the next stage of Europe's premier club tournament.

Lyon managed to keep Real to a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their last 16 tie, which was enough to progress to the quarter finals after beating Los Merengues 1-0 in France. Real was the better side in the first half but only got one goal through Cristiano Ronaldo. The second half was dominated by Lyon and they got a deserved equalizer through Miralem Pjanic.

“I admit that in the first half, we were a bit lucky with that shot from Higuain that hit the post," said Puel. "But we bounced back well in the second half. We managed to get the ball wide which we didn’t do in the first 45 minutes.

"Real also dipped a little physically. But I think on our second-half showing, we deserved to go through. It took a really great second half to get the result.”

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas admitted it was an emotional night at the Bernabeu. The chairman already dreams of more European glory with Les Gones.

“It’s amazing. It’s the best performance I’ve seen from Lyon," said Aulas. "The players and the coach have been overly, and harshly, criticised this season so this result only makes all the more happy. I can’t tell you how delighted I am. I shouldn’t say this, but I even had a little tear in my eye.

"Now the dream is to come back here for the final, but before then, there’s the quarter-final and then the semi-final to tackle...”


Valdano pledges support to Pellegrini

11 March 2010 10:06

(GSM) - Real Madrid general manager Jorge Valdano has offered his backing to under-fire coach Manuel Pellegrini after Los Blancos were knocked out of the Champions League by Olympique Lyon.

Real could only manage a 1-1 home draw in the second leg of their last 16 tie, losing out 2-1 on aggregate and failing to make the quarter-finals of the competition for the sixth successive season.

However, Valdano insisted the club has faith in Pellegrini: "We will respect him because we believe in his work, although we know that the coach of Madrid is always accompanied by controversy.

"He has a contract for next season and the plan is that he will continue being our coach. The season hasn't finished and there are still things to fight for."

Pellegrini also vowed to battle on to try and ensure a successful end to the campaign, adding: "I'm not going to resign, I'm not going to quit the fight.

"Of course we're all very disappointed because we wanted to go far in this competition, but I've never thought about resigning.

"I see myself in exactly the same situation as I saw myself yesterday, though obviously with the bitter disappointment of the failure and being knocked out.

"My future depends only on the board, the only thing I can do is continue working as until now."


Kaka asks fans for forgiveness

11 March 2010 09:27

(GSM) - Real Madrid's dream of lifting this season's Champions League trophy at their Santiago Bernabeu stadium was shattered on Wednesday when Olympique Lyon eliminated them at the last 16 stage.

After the defeat, Kaka asked the fans for forgiveness.

"It is a very hard blow for Real Madrid," Kaka told Marca.

"The only thing we can do is ask the fans for forgiveness. We all wanted to play the final in the Bernabeu, and we could not achieve it.

"I have overcome many difficult moments in my career. We are going to get past this one together.

"We created a lot of chances to score, but did not take them.

"In the Champions League, this will cost you."

Kaka then talked about his controversial substitution, continuing, "I did not like the situation of the game."

"I was not angry about the change, but the scoreline.

"I was replaced by Raul, who has a lot of experience in scoring."


Real Madrid's failure leaves Pellegrini exposed

11 March 2010 03:40

MADRID (AFP) - After spending over 250 million euros to build a second dynasty of 'Galacticos' Real Madrid were expected to lift this season's Champions League trophy in the May 22 final at their Santiago Bernabeu stadium, but that dream was shattered on Wednesday as Lyon eliminated Real 2-1 on aggregate at the last 16 stage.

Pressure is always intense on Real Madrid managers and Manuel Pellegrini had more than usual after a massive summer outlay on Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and company - but money doesn't guarantee success and the bitter Champions League exit leaves the likeable Chilean fearing for his job.

Pellegrini was entrusted with ending Real's last 16 hoodoo but it struck again as Real exited the competition at the first knockout stage for the sixth successive season.

"The first person responsible is the coach," said Pellegrini. "My future depends on the board and the only thing I can do is continue working like I have been doing.

"Getting to the final was the ambition of everyone here so the elimination is very painful.

"This loss is a real setback but we have to lift our mood, look forward and continue working to win the league."

Cristiano Ronaldo's seventh Champions League goal on six minutes levelled the tie at 1-1 for Real but Lyon teenager Miralem Pjanic, 19, scored the dreaded away goal on 75 minutes and Real crashed out 2-1 on aggregate.

"We are all really annoyed and angry," said goalkeeper Iker Casillas. "It is difficult to stomach and a real setback.

"I ask for the forgiveness from the fans for this defeat in a competition where we had the highest hopes. We have to accept our responsibility for what happened."

The 33-year-old veteran Guti, a three-time Champions League winner (1998, 2000, 2002), called on Real to play more as a team rather than individuals.

"It is a real shame but this shows that in the important games we don't know how to kill them off," said captain Guti.

"We have to be more of a team rather than individuals. Lyon were more of a team and you have to admit that. I don't think we came out (after the break) how we wanted and they pushed forward.

"Every time you lose in this competition it hurts and this year is even more painful.

"Now we just have to think about the league which is all we have left to play for."

The league, where Real are level on points with Barcelona at the summit, is the only hope of silverware for Real and even winning that may not save the job of Pellegrini, who arrived from Villarreal in the summer, with the early Kings Cup and Champions League exits bitter pills to swallow.

Fabio Capello, Bernd Schuster and Juande Ramos have gone through the managerial revolving door at the Bernabeu in the past few seasons and the speculation will be growing about Pellegrini on Thursday morning in the wake of the Lyon setback.

Real must somehow pick themselves up for the next league game at Valladolid on Sunday as they bid to wrestle the title from Barcelona and avoid a second consecutive season without silverware.


Lyon crush Madrid´s Champions League final dreams at the Bernabeu

10 March 2010 22:55

MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid's massive summer spending was all in vain as their dream of playing the Champions League final at their Santiago Bernabeu stadium was shattered Wednesday by Lyon.

Miralem Pjanic's goal 15 minutes from time in the Spanish capital secured a 2-1 aggregate win and eliminated Real at the last 16 stage for the sixth successive season.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo had levelled the tie for Real in the sixth minute but Bosnia-Herzegovina teenager Pjanic, 19, scored the biggest goal of his life on 75 minutes to put Lyon in the quarter-finals.

After spending over 250 million euros in the summer, with Ronaldo and Kaka accounting for a large part of that, expectations were high.

But Real fell short at the first knockout stage once again and now only have the league to play for.

"It is a real shame but this shows that in the important games we don't know how to kill them off," said Real veteran Guti.

"We have to be more of a team rather than individuals. Now we just have to think about the league which is all we have left to play for."

The defeat cranks up the pressure on coach Manuel Pellegrini, who was expected to win a 10th Champions League on home turf but Real must now watch the May 22 final at their stadium on the television.

"We are all angry and this is really difficult to take," said goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

"I ask for forgiveness from the fans for this defeat in a competition where we had the highest hopes."

For Lyon it was a huge result as they reached the quarter-finals after exiting the competition at the last 16 stage for the past three seasons.

Left back Marcelo and midfielder Xabi Alonso were both out through suspension so Pellegrini tinkered with his line-up bringing in Alvaro Arbeloa at left back.

Veteran Guti, 33, came in as a playmaker for Alonso with Esteban Granero starting probably his most important game in a Real shirt.

Lyon started with a bank of five in midfield anchored by Jeremy Toulalan with Argentine Lisandro Lopez leading the line.

Guti had an impact after just six minutes feeding Ronaldo, who accelerated away from Lyon captain Cris before slotting a left-footed shot through the legs of Hugo Lloris giving Real a dream start.

Buoyed by the early goal Real went for the kill and should have scored again with Argentine Gonzalo Higuain the main culprit, missing a gilt-edged chance on 26 minutes.

Higuain rounded Lloris but with an empty net gaping he side-footed against the post.

Lloris denied Higuain minutes later as the Argentine latched onto a Kaka pass only to be foiled by a strong hand from the Lyon goalkeeper.

The French visitors were second best with a Toulalan long-range effort the best they could muster in the first half.

Pellegrini wanted more of the same in the second half while Lyon coach Claude Puel was clearly angry and wanted a response from his side.

Lyon started the second period well and Maxime Gonalons, one of two second half substitutes, had a half chance for the visitors early on.

An away goal would have meant Real had to score two more goals so it was tense for the hosts especially when Casillas had to make a save from Lisandro's potent longe range shot.

Pellegrini brought off the fading Granero with Rafael van der Vaart, the hero in a 3-2 win over Sevilla at the weekend, coming on to offer more invention.

Kaka and van der Vaart had long range efforts but Lyon were more solid in the second half and threatening on the counter attack.

With a quarter of an hour left and extra-time beckoning some neat interplay allowed Pjanic to slot in meaning Real had to score two more goals.

An onslaught followed as Lyon defended for their lives but Real could not produce another comeback.


Quick Report: Real Madrid 1-1 Lyon

10 March 2010 22:42

(GSM) - A second-half goal from Miralem Pjanic gave French side Lyon a stunning 1-1 draw with Real Madrid on Wednesaday, eliminating the Spaniards from the Champions League 2-1 on aggregate..

After dropping the first leg 1-0 in France, the Spaniards needed to erase the deficit quickly, and they did just that in the sixth minute.

Guti sent in a pass toward goal, an Cristiano Ronaldo ran onto it before slipping a shot past Hugo Lloris.

Gonzalo Higuaín struck the post in the 25th minute with what would have given Madrid the lead, but they failed to capitalize on their strong first half.

Lyon sprung to life in the second half with Lisandro López forcing a save from Iker Casillas in the 54th minute.

But the French side stunned the crowd at the Bernabéu with 15 minutes to go when Pjanic tucked home from inside the area after being put through by López.

The draw handed Lyon an aggregate win and a berth in the quarter-finals, with the home side utterly disappointed.


We need to score at the Bernabeu- Puel

10 March 2010 12:48

(GSM) - Olympique Lyon boss Claude Puel believes his side will have to score an away goal against Real Madrid despite the 1-0 advantage they take to the Bernabeu.

Lyon hold the lead going into Wednesday's last-16 game, and have never lost to the Spanish giants in five meetings in the competition.

"We'll have to play an intelligent game, our own game. We need to put pressure on Real Madrid and I think we'll need to score a goal," said Puel.

The French manager said he wasn't impressed by the promises from Real players that they will make amends to their supporters.

“This does not affect me,” he told the press. “Pre-match words don’t matter much; the answer is on the pitch. Real believe in themselves, but we believe in ourselves too.

“We lead 1-0, we know that Real can score many goals. We must play to score and qualify.”

Lyon were in a promising position at this stage last season against Barcelona, having picked up a 1-1 draw at home. Nevertheless, les Gones were roundly hammered in the second leg, and Puel is hopeful his side have learnt from that experience.

“The truth is on the pitch,” he mused. “We have been better managed in between games and we have a squad that is completed, apart from Michel Bastos.”


Pressure on big-spending Real to end last 16 hoodoo

10 March 2010 06:45

MADRID (AFP) - A staggering summer outlay of over 250 million euros and home advantage for the final has seen Real Madrid put themselves under immense pressure to win the Champions League this season.

However, the record nine-time European champions first have to come from behind to eliminate French side Lyon who arrive for Wednesday's last 16 decider at the Santiago Bernabeu holding a 1-0 first leg lead.

Real have been unstoppable in the league at home winning all 13 games but in Europe their dominance has not been as overwhelming losing 3-2 to AC Milan at home in this season's group stage while Liverpool and Juventus both won in Madrid last season.

Lyon's clean sheet in the first leg means a vital away goal would force Real to score three goals to progress as they go all out to reach the final at their Bernabeu stadium on May 22.

"We are up for coming from behind against Lyon," said Guti, a three-time Champions League winner with Real.

"If they score it will complicate things but with the signings we have made we have to give everything to get through.

"It would be a failure not to get past the knockout stage against a rival like Lyon who are good but not one of the big European sides."

Lyon, third in their domestic league, may not have the grandeur of Real but they are seasoned campaigners in the Champions League and have outperformed Real in the last five campaigns reaching the quarter-final stage in 2005 and 2006.

"We really believe in our chances, even if Real (Madrid) remain the favourites," said Lyon's Brazilian captain Cris. "It's just a match with 11 against 11 and we are not worried about their stars."

Real have been a disappointment in Europe in recent seasons failing to reach the quarter-finals since 2004 and coach Manuel Pellegrini is under pressure to put them back among Europe's elite particularly after the massive summer spending.

Pellegrini, who guided Villarreal to the semi-finals in 2006, must do without midfielder Xabi Alonso through suspension leaving the door open for the likes of former Lyon old boy Mahamadou Diarra, Esteban Granero and Rafael van der Vaart to stake a claim for a first team place.

French striker Karim Benzema, a summer signing from Lyon, could miss the game against his old club due to a groin strain but Real have the firepower in Brazilian Kaka, in-form Argentine Gonzalo Higuain and Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo who is the Champions League top-scorer with six goals.

Real will also be on a high after their dramatic 3-2 win over Sevilla, coming from two goals down to move level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table and Ronaldo called on his team-mates to stamp their authority over Lyon.

"We need to show that, at the Bernabeu, we are the ones in charge," said Ronaldo. "We already know Lyon are a strong team, but now we are playing at home and I am confident that we will progress.

"It would be a huge disappointment if we did not progress. We are going to go out with the mentality of winning and scoring goals."

Real are top-scorers in the Spanish league and start as favourites but Lyon's Argentine striker Cesar Delgado insists the French giants won't come to sit back and defend.

"We are not coming with the idea of defending because we are not a team that likes to defend," said Delgado. "There is no doubt that they have players that can change the game. We have a lot of respect but in football you can't have fear."


Bastos out of Real clash

9 March 2010 09:43

(GSM) - Olympique Lyon will have to do without midfield ace Michel Bastos for their clash against Real Madrid tomorrow.

The Brazil international has failed to recover from his injury in time.

Bastos, who suffered muscular problems during the match against Boulogne, will not be able to defend the 1-0 lead Lyon take to the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old was substituted for Miralem Pjanic during the Boulogne match.

Real Madrid also have selection issues, with Xabi Alonso and Marcelo both suspended, and Karim Benzema injured.


Fans key to Real comeback against Lyon - Ronaldo

8 March 2010 20:35

MADRID (AFP) - Cristiano Ronaldo believes Real Madrid can overcome its 1-0 first leg defeat to Lyon and reach the Champions League quarter final on Wednesday for the first time since 2004, with some help from the fans.

Lyon "are a strong team physically, but it's our turn to play at home," the Portuguese winger told a news conference.

"I was amazed by the fans on Saturday and I must thank them for their support. I hope we see the same kind of atmosphere on Wednesday because they will play a crucial role in our success. The stadium will be great to see so full and the players are ready."

Real lost 1-0 at Lyon in their last-16 first-leg match on February 16, and now have it all to do on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium - where this year's Champions League final will be played.

"Wednesday's match is do-or-die. We are playing very good football and we have proven that we are the strongest team in La Liga," said Ronaldo.

On Saturday, Real battled back from 2-0 down to beat Sevilla 3-2 and reclaim top spot in the Spanish first division.

Manuel Pellegrini's side are under pressure to bring the Champions League trophy back to Madrid after spending vast sums on big signings such as Ronaldo - the world's most expensive player - Brazil's Kaka and France's Karim Benzema.

The Spanish giants have fallen at the last-16 stage in the past five seasons and have not won Europe's most-coveted trophy since 2002 when they beat Germany's Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in Glasgow.

On Wednesday, they will be without Benzema, who misses the match against his old club with a groin strain, as well as midfielder Xabi Alonso and left-back Marcelo through suspension.

"Everyone knows how bad this club wants to win the Champions League," said Ronaldo.

"It has nine titles and wants ten, and this year the final is being played here. I am sure we can turn this tie around... We have to prove to Lyon that we own the Bernabeu."

Real's French midfielder Lassana Diarra said an early goal is essential.

"We must start the match strongly, and above all watch out for their counter-attacks so as not concede a goal," he said.


Real's Benzema ruled out of Lyon clash - press

8 March 2010 11:15

MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema will miss Wednesday's Champions League clash with his old club Lyon due to a groin strain, Spanish newspapers reported.

The Frenchman has not played since Real suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Lyon in their last-16 first-leg match in France on February 16.

He is expected to be out of action for a further two weeks, meaning he will miss the return leg in Madrid on Wednesday, sports newspapers AS and Marca said Monday.

The 22-year-old joined Real from Lyon, his boyhood club, for 35 million euros in July last year.

Manuel Pellegrini's side are under pressure to bring the Champions League trophy back to Madrid after spending vast sums on big signings such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema.

The Spanish giants have fallen at the last-16 stage in the past five seasons and have not won Europe's most-coveted trophy since 2002 when they beat Germany's Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in Glasgow.


Bastos confident Lyon can prevail against Real

5 March 2010 12:43

(GSM) - Michel Bastos is wary of Real Madrid's strenght at their own stadium but the Olympique Lyon midfielder also believes his side perform best against the top teams.

Lyon and Real go head-on-head again on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League eight final clash.

The first leg between the French and Spanish giants ended in a 1-0 win for Lyon who will face a daunting task at the Bernabeu.

Real have won every game in front of their own fans, conceding only eight times and racking up an intimidating 41 goals.

However, Bastos is confident that the Ligue 1 side will be able to handle the spirited Los Blancos fight back on Wednesday.

"Since the beginning of the season we have played well against big teams, and sometimes against small teams we struggle," the Brazil international told agreeing with a statement former Lyon striker Karim Benzema said.

"I agree with Karim; Lyon have talented players who have always performed well against big teams."

However, the 26-year-old is in no doubt Madrid will also raise their game.

"It might be another story in front of their supporters, in their stadium," Bastos added, "and we know that they will be wanting to do well, as we know they kind of blew it (in Lyon)."

Lyon have been in impressive form lately, winning six of their last seven league matches.


Ronaldo issues warning to Lyon

23 February 2010 18:25

MADRID (AFP) - Cristiano Ronaldo has warned Lyon they will face a Real Madrid on top form when they meet again during their Champions League return leg next month.

Real suffered a 1-0 last-16 first-leg away loss to the French side on February 16 but bounced back to demolish Villarreal 6-2 on Sunday in La Liga in a performance which was roundly praised in the Spanish media.

"We scored six goals, we won and in our return leg against Lyon we will once again show our best face. This is the team that is waiting for you and is going to do everything possible to beat you," Ronaldo told sports daily Marca.

Ronaldo was hailed as a "one-man orchestra" by daily newspaper El Mundo for his performance against Villarreal.

The 25-year-old Portugal international opened the scoring with a freekick on 18 minutes and helped set up four more goals. The win left Real just two points adrift of La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Real's return leg against Lyon will be played at home on March 10.

This year's Champions League final will be held at Real's Santiago Bernabeu stadium on May 22 and the club, which spent nearly 250 million euros (340 million dollars) on fresh talent before the start of the season, have made winning the tournament its top priority.

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 12 +29 34
2 12 +21 30
3 12 +13 24
4 12 +10 24
5 12 +2 22

Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
1 13 +34 35
2 13 +22 29
3 13 +17 26
4 13 +9 25
5 13 -1 23