By Pete Sanderson at the Stade Gerland
A late penalty from Brazilian midfield player Juninho Pernambucano broke Celtic FC hearts and booked Olympique Lyonnais a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. The victory confirmed Lyon as the winners of Group A, meaning Celtic had to be content with a place in the UEFA Cup.
Giovane Elber gave Lyon a deserved lead but Celtic were soon level courtesy of John Hartson in the 24th minute. Juninho restored Lyon's advantage on 52 minutes when his opportunist shot slipped under Magnus Hedman's despairing dive. Celtic substitute Momo Sylla then conjured a chance from nowhere allowing Chris Sutton to convert and put Celtic back in pole position - before the last-gasp penalty.
With so much at stake, both coaches employed aggressive strategies with Celtic pairing Henrik Larsson and Hartson in attack, with Sutton tucked in behind them and Lyon fielding three attack-minded players behind the prolific Elber.
The French champions made their intentions clear from the start, going close twice in a breathtaking opening few minutes. First Florent Malouda escaped down the left only for Elber to shoot straight at Hedman. A minute later Anthony Réveillère drilled a long-range effort centimetres over the bar.
With Celtic still recovering from the early onslaught, Lyon took full advantage after Bobo Balde conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area in the sixth minute. Juninho, known for his precise, powerful strikes from dead-ball situations, thumped the resulting free-kick against Hedman's crossbar and - with the visiting defence static - Elber nodded in the rebound.
Normal service resumed
Celtic were visibly shaken and, although Hartson earned them some respite when he screwed a 15th-minute shot wide, they were fortunate not to find themselves two goals down on 18 minutes as the lively Lyon attack resumed normal service. A swift exchange of passes carved out an opening for Elber but his shot brushed past the upright, before Juninho's clever free-kick was flicked agonisingly over the bar by Mahamadou Diarra.
At this point it was hard to see where Celtic's next attack would come from but, with O'Neill cutting a forlorn figure in the Bhoys' dugout, Hartson finally gave his manager something to smile about. A rare mistake in the Lyon rearguard in the 24th minute allowed Larsson a free shot on goal, the Swede forcing Grégory Coupet to parry his effort. The ball fell kindly for Hartson and the Welsh international sent an unstoppable right-footed shot into the bottom corner to level proceedings.
It was a cruel blow after such a period of dominance from the home side. Sidney Govou and Péguy Luyindula both had chances to give Lyon the advantage at the break but Hedman was in inspired form in the Celtic goal. But ten minutes into the second half it was Lyon's master craftsman Juninho who turned from goal-maker to goal-getter. The Brazilian tried his luck from long range and Hedman appeared to slip at the vital moment and allowed the ball to squeeze under his body and give Lyon the advantage.
Hedman did his best to make amends when he tipped over Juninho's free-kick in the 60th minute. And despite the fact Celtic were thrown a lifeline when Sutton converted Sylla's cross, Lyon triumphed when Juninho kept his nerve to score from the penalty spot after Balde was adjudged to have handled the ball by Swiss referee Urs Meier.