Bafetimbi Gomis struck a late equaliser as Lyon recovered from Karim Benzema’s opener to draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League last-16 first leg.

Gomis wasted a glorious chance to put the hosts ahead before half-time and Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo hit the post with a free-kick just after the break.

And after Sergio Ramos headed on to the bar former Lyon striker Benzema slotted in, moments after coming off the bench.

But there was still time for Gomis to level it with a close-range volley.

It provided a dramatic finale to a tense encounter and makes for a hugely interesting second leg at Bernabeu on 16 March.

The Spanish giants will be confident of reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 2004 but Lyon are still in contention to make the last four for the second season running.

Ahead of the game, Real coach Jose Mourinho stressed that “history doesn’t count for anything in this sort of match” and it was easy to see why.

His club had not won any of their previous six meetings with Lyon and were beaten – failing to even score – on each of their three visits to Stade Gerland.

Furthermore, Real have been knocked out at this stage for the last six years and it was Lyon who sent them packing last season.

So, even considering the Spaniards’ stature and serene progress through the group stage, it was hardly a surprise to see Lyon boss Claude Puel’s side looking the more assured in the opening exchanges.

The French outfit were missing star striker Lisandro Lopez because of a hamstring injury but lone frontman Gomis carried a genuine threat and was ably supported but Michel Bastos, Cesar Delgado and playmaker Yoann Gourcuff.

The hosts immediately sought to got forward in numbers and served notice of their threat as Bastos and Gomis both got behind the visiting defence for early sights of goal.

Centre-back Cris then fired narrowly wide with an overhead kick from the edge of the box and Kim Kallstrom drilled a shot off target.

Real eventually settled into some sort of rhythm but encountered two brilliantly organised banks of four and had to resort to attempts from distance.

Angel di Maria created their first meaningful chance with a skidding effort that goalkeeper Hugo Lloris gathered at the second attempt before Ronaldo’s 30-yard free-kick was palmed to safety after bouncing awkwardly in front of the Lyon keeper.

Puel’s men began adopting a more cautious approach and rather than encamping themselves in their opponents’ half, focused instead on hitting the Spaniards on the counter-attack.

And they should have been rewarded when Real keeper Iker Casillas spilled a Bastos cross from the left at the feet of Gomis, only for the Frenchman to fire over the bar.

If Lyon finished the first half on top, it was the visitors who made by far the better start to the second period.

And they almost took the lead when Ronaldo’s free-kick, from a narrow angle on the left, bent over the wall and come back off the far upright.

Moments later Real were again denied by the woodwork when Ramos rose highest to meet Mesut Ozil’s corner, his glanced header cannoning away off the bar.

But it would be third time lucky after Mourinho – hoping to becoming the first manager to win European club football’s most prestigious competition with three different clubs – brought Benzema on for the ineffective Emmanuel Adebayor.

Frenchman Benzema had been on the pitch only a matter of seconds when he won possession on the left and linked up with Ronaldo before jinking his way past several defenders and beating Lloris with a low strike.

Puel urged his side to push forward in search of an instant response but Real repelled everything thrown at them and seemed on course for a historic win.

Lyon, however, had other ideas and with seven minutes of normal time remaining Cris nodded a free-kick into the path of an unmarked Gomis and he stayed calm to atone for his earlier miss.

Source: BBC

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