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Diarra leads a brave fightback in the Bernabeu

By S.Aravind
January 11 2007

90 titles are being shared between these 2 powerhouses in European Football.Add to that,stats like most number of goals scored in the tournament so far and least number of goals conceded by a team,we expect a treat of football and drama vs two of the most glamorous teams in the Champions League. 21.11.06

Real Madrid Versus Lyon

Lyon threw away a two-goal lead as Real Madrid claimed a 2-2 draw at The Santiago Bernabeu, but it proved enough for the French champions to seal top-spot in Group E.

90 titles are being shared between these two powerhouses in European Football. If that statistic shocks us to a certain extent, also add to it stats like most number of goals scored in the champions league so far ( Real Madrid 12 ) and least number of goals conceded by a team ( 2 , by an attacking Lyon side ) and we are made to expect an amazing treat of football and drama between two of the most glamorous teams in the Champions League at present , rightly so as well !

As , Terje Hauge blew the whistle for kick off , Guti was in the midst of early happenings , linking up play and spotting off the ball movements well . On the other end , Carew shows glimpses of what we were about to see for 90 more minutes , with a great run which beat two of the world’s most coveted defenders for years now , Roberto Carlos and Fabio Cannavro.

In the 10th minute of the game , lapse of concentration from Madrid's part while Ramos was making his usual run down the right flank resulted in a tackle by Abidal and the ball was played out to Carew in the other half . Carew brilliantly anticipated the usual plunge from Cannavaro and made him meet thin air while galloped with the ball through on goal.Carew’s pace and finish was too good for Madrid and Casillas and by the 12th minute , Lyon led Madrid due to first of many defensive errors from Cannavaro , of all the people !

With a goal down , Madrid didn’t let it affect their attack as Robinho continued to create attacks for himself but let the strikers down with the end product of his work down the flanks. While Madrid continued to attack on end, their defense were in sixes and sevens as Carew held up the ball very well against Cannavaro and Emerson failed to cover the run of Tiago, who’s finish was not as good as the build up.

Lyon continued to step on its rough tactics and it resulted in Guti getting badly injured after a two-foot lunge, which deserved a yellow card, by Toulalan. Guti had to leave the pitch and was replaced by Reyes , who placed himself in the right flank while Raul filled in the void left by Guti in the middle .

The 2nd goal in the 35th minute resulted from another Cannavaro error when he needlessly tugged down Carew’s shirt and gave Lyon a cheap free kick from about 35 yards out near the right touch line . Juninho stepped up to deliver as expected with a wonderfully hit ball which Casillas failed to control and was rightly capitalized by Malouda who reached to it before Iker . Excellent finish from the small winger and Lyon took a 2 goal lead against the run of play but to their credit , Madrid’s defense were having a bad day in the office.

Justice then prevailed to an extent in the 38th minute , from a corner taken by Reyes , Van Nistelroy headed the ball back across goal to Diarra , who leaped to it like a tiger and took a really well deserved goal as he was one of the few Madrid players who were up for the challenge in the first half .

In the second half, Tempo and emotions ran wild following halftime. Real Madrid had no other option than to attack. Lyon sat tight and opted to wait for a chance to counter. Both teams had several chances on goal, but Ramos, Robinho, Carew and Malouda all failed to score. Anything could happen. The match was there for the taking by either side and the crowd appreciated the excitement both teams were providing. Some players really shone apart from the rest during such high paced game with lots of action like Reveillere and his composed defense when he had to face attack after attack from Robinho , not to forget Carew , who picked up where he left in the first half .

Bernabeu’s love child, Raul was his usual self and didn’t look like he would be going home with a fair share of the spoils. He fitted into that creative role to a Tee and crafted few chances for Robinho , who clearly forgot to wear his shooting boots as his finishing in terms of crossing and shooting was really disappointing throught the evening . To his credit , Robinho stepped up his performance in other aspects to what we saw last season .

Fellow compatriot Carlos had a frustrating game and he took it out on Lyon’s right winger Clerc, resulting in a booking. Another Brazilian struggling on the day was Emerson, who was substituted as Madrid needed more thrust in their attack and Cassano came on, much to the surprise of the Bernabeu crowd after his antics in the past.

Just when it looked like the day was simply not going belong to the Whites, the Old Guard brought the smiles back to the faces of Madrid with a good striker’s goal in the 82nd minute from Carlos’s cross which Raul superbly headed on to the post , only to be followed by Ruud Van Nistelroy’s top instincts for his 47th goal of the campaign after a much maligned outing till that moment.

Then in the 88th minute , the biggest drama in the game took place when Ruud had a good shot blocked controversially by Cris inside the penalty box and he fell over in his follow through . The Ref immediately pointed to the spot and the Lyon players were shocked while Ruud continued his usual post tackle antics lying on the ground.

As expected , Ruud missed the penalty under much pressure ( 2nd penalty miss in about 10 days ! ) and this time , he was pretty much disgusted about it . Lets not under estimate Coupet’s skills as it was a superb save , low down to his left and hit hard , only to be tapped out to a corner by the 37 yrd old Coupet.

This was the last realistic chance in the game for both sides and the game ended as a draw, a result that both sides would have taken after the performance they put in those 90 minutes. There were some real downers individually from Madrid’s side but Raul – Robinho – Helguera – Diarra continued their good form this season. From Lyon’s side, Carew’s return back to fitness and unbelievable form is the biggest plus from this game as he was by far the best player on the pitch by a mile. No other player could match his skills, athleticism, speed and contribution throughout the span of the game.

2 – REAL MADRID: Casillas; Ramos, Helguera, Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos; Raúl, Diarra, Emerson (Cassano 74’), Robinho; Guti (Reyes 20’) & Van Nistelrooy.
2 – OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS: Coupet; Reveillere, Cris, Squillaci, Abidal; Toulalan (Diarra 91’), Tiago, Juninho; Clerc, Malouda & Carew.
0-1, 11': Carew beats Casillas in an individual play.
0-2, 30': Malouda scores from a free-kick taken by Juninho.
1-2, 38': Diarra scores a header from a corner.
2-2, 83': Van Nistelrroy scores from a rebound shot on the post by Raúl.
REFEREE: Terje Hauge (Norway). Booked Toulalan (19’), Revelleire (49’), Juninho (54’), Roberto Carlos (74’), Cannavaro (83’),Raúl (90’) & Ramos (93’).

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