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By Pete Sanderson at the Stade Gerland
Olympique Lyonnais booked their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League as a 1-0 victory against Real Sociedad de Fútbol earned a 2-0 aggregate triumph.
In an even game, neither side were able to create much in the way of clear goalscoring opportunities, with Lyon midfield player Juninho Pernambucano scoring the only goal with 13 minutes remaining to confirm his side's progress.
Leading 1-0 after the first leg in Spain, Paul Le Guen's team selection raised a few eyebrows, with Péguy Luyindula and Sidney Govou surpisingly paired together up front and Brazilian forward Giovane Elber kept in reserve. Real coach Raynald Denoueix opted for a more cautious approach, playing Darko Kovacevic on his own up front in a 4-5-1 formation, with Valeri Karpin and Igor Gabilondo offering close support to the lone striker from the wings and Nihat Kahveci on the bench.
In an uncharacteristically untidy opening by the hosts, it was Real, clearly eager to restore parity at the earliest opportunity, who carved out the first real chance. Mikel Aranburu just failed to intercept a loose back-pass, with Lyon goalkeeper Grégory Coupet quickly off his line to intercept. However, the French international injured his wrist in the process and the match only resumed after a lengthy stoppage. Coupet was replaced by Rémy Vercoutre in the 16th minute.
Govou goes close
Lyon responded in typically positive fashion, Juninho collecting a loose ball in midfield and embarking on one of his trademark marauding runs forward. With Luyindula in space on the left, the Brazilian playmaker looked the other way and threaded a wonderfully timed pass through to Govou. The French international hesitated for a second too long, allowing Alberto López to smother his shot.
After Real duo Karpin and Kovacevic had both failed to capitalise when well placed, Bittor Alkiza flashed a left-foot effort wide from the edge of the area. However, despite the illustrious prize of a place in the quarter-final at stake, neither side looked capable of mustering a genuine threat on goal and both showed signs of frustration as the first half drew to a close, with Lyon's Edmílson and Karpin both shown the yellow card.
Lyon hold firm
The second half began much as the first had finished and it seemed only a matter of time before the two coaches shuffled their lineups. For all their hard work and, at times, delightful flowing football, Real were struggling to break down the Lyon defence. It was no surprise to see Denoueix make a double change on the hour, introducing Turkish international Nihat and Javier De Pedro as Real pressed for a way back into the game. The substitutions, however, served only to galvanise Lyon.
First Juninho's ferocious free-kick was well dealt with by López, and then Luyindula was unable to convert a glorious chance after some intricate build-up play from Govou and Michael Essien. With the game bursting into life, Real retaliated and only a superb clearance from Eric Deflandre prevented Xabi Alonso from levelling the tie.
With the visitors forced to commit more men forward in search of an aggregate equaliser, there was more space for Lyon to exploit and the winning goal arrived in the 77th minute. Luyindula burst down the left before pulling a ball back for Juninho to stroke into the corner of the net. It was a goal of pure simplicity but one that proved crucial for the French champions.
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