Jocelyn Blanchard's last-minute strike earned RC Lens a point at the Olympiastadion tonight in a thrilling 3-3 draw with FC Bayern München, but it was not enough to take the French side through to the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Lens battle back
RC Deportivo La Coruña's 2-1 victory over AC Milan ensured the Spanish side second spot behind the Italian challengers in Group G, but Lens will take heart from a spirited performance which saw them battle back from 2-0 and then 3-2 down to snatch a point at the death.
Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld made seven changes from the side that crashed out of Europe with defeat by Deportivo on Matchday Five, and called for a show of pride. It was not to be as Bayern finished without a win in Group G, despite establishing a 2-0 lead in their final European match of the season.
Kovac strikes first
Bayern fans had stayed away from the Olympiastadion in droves to voice their dissatisfaction with their side's European campaign, but Niko Kovac brought those who had made the trip to their feet on six minutes when he released a fierce shot from the edge of the area to fire the home side ahead.
Lens, who had to win to keep their qualification hopes alive, failed to get a grip on the game and might have fallen further behind when Thomas Linke headed over on eleven minutes. Guillaume Warmuz then had to save sharply from Claudio Pizarro, but the Lens goalkeeper gifted Bayern a second goal on 19 minutes when he failed to collect Hasan Salihamidzic's harmless cross from the right and deflected it into his own goal.
Bayern, however, immediately responded with a mistake of their own to gift Lens a lifeline. John Utaka cut down the right and crossed low into the box where Thorsten Fink touched the ball past Stefan Wessels. The goal brought Lens to life and they ended the half the stronger, but after the break Bayern almost added to their lead when substitute Giovane Elber struck the post with a long-range shot.
Having survived that scare, Lens drew level on 54 minutes. Utaka burst powerfully into the area and cut the ball back to Dagui Bakari who, unmarked, pulled his side level from three metres.
Feulner on target
The news that Deportivo had gone ahead against Milan knocked the wind out of Lens and it was Bayern who pressed as the half progressed, and eventually their pressure told. With three minutes to go substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger crossed for Elber whose header hit the bar, but the ball fell for Feulner who scored from seven metres.
Not enough for Lens
Lens, however, were not finished yet and as the game entered added time Daniel Moreira climbed above Robert Kovac to flick on a long punt forward. Blanchard latched on to the ball and fired in the equaliser, but it was not enough to take Lens through.