PSV Eindhoven have left themselves with a mountain to climb after losing 1-0 at home against Olympique Lyonnais in the home leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie, leaving their hopes of repeating last year's feat of eliminating the French side in the balance.
PSV never managed to establish control. Especially in the first half, they tried to feed the ball to their front men as quickly as possible, which meant that their midfield was often bypassed. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink won many of the resultant aerial duels, but the home side could not exert any sustained pressure and Jefferson Farfán, PSV's top scorer this season, made little impact.
After the interval the French champions adopted a more adventurous approach and started dictating the play. Substitutes Sylvain Wiltord and Fred posed a more potent attacking threat with their intelligent movement. "When Wiltord came on they were sharper up front," said PSV's Belgian international Timmy Simons.
Yet in some ways Guus Hiddink's men can count themselves unfortunate not to have scored. "We did create some very good chances, but failed to convert them and were punished for it," said Vennegoor of Hesselink, who twice went close with headers in the first half. Alex skimmed the bar with a thunderous free-kick, and substitute Arouna Koné rounded Grégory Coupet in the dying moments only to hit the post. "I lacked the coolness to finish it off," said the Ivory Coast striker. "My shot was too hurried."
The decisive moment came 20 minutes into the second half, when Juninho's long-range free-kick swerved its way past Heurelho Gomes in the PSV goal and the Brazilian's team-mates were quick to defend their keeper. "He had a poor view of the ball," said defender Michael Reiziger. "I don't think you can blame him." Vennegoor of Hesselink echoed that sentiment, saying: "I think he only saw the ball late and it was a very difficult shot to deal with."
Gomes himself took full responsibility. "The goal was my fault," said the man whose heroics during last year's penalty shoot-out between the two teams saw PSV progress to the semi-final. "There was a tremendous amount of swerve on the ball, and he hit it extremely hard. I have seen him doing similar things in training with the national team, but I should have stopped it."
As for the return leg, Vennegoor of Hesselink was realistic about his team's prospects. "I think our chances of reaching the next round are fairly slim," he said. "On the other hand, we have nothing to lose there, and it is clear that we have to attack, so maybe that will help." To that end, Lyon's Norwegian striker John Carew remained cautious. "We deserved to win, but I wouldn't say we were halfway there yet," he said. "We still have to finish the job in France."
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