Olympique Lyonnais will go into the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League as group winners after securing a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid CF.
An audacious back-heel from John Carew after 72 minutes was enough to give unbeaten Lyon the point they needed from their visit to the Spanish capital to top Group F. Madrid had led at half-time after Guti was in the right place at the right time to blast the opening goal following a David Beckham set-piece shortly before the break.
The home team went into the game struggling to come to terms with their 3-0 loss to FC Barcelona which not only dented morale but also claimed injury victims in Ronaldo (ankle) and Raúl González (knee). With qualification for the knockout stage secured, Madrid's intentions were to make up for their weekend defeat by earning a three-goal victory which would keep them in contention to win the group.
Coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo made the surprise decision to hand centre-back Francisco Pavón his first start in two months and pushed Sergio Ramos into midfield alongside Pablo García. Carlos Diogo was deployed at right-back instead of Míchel Salgado. Zinedine Zidane, flanked by David Beckham and stand-in captain Guti, supported lone forward Robinho. Visiting coach Gérard Houllier also tweaked his defence, preferring the more defensively-minded Sylvain Monsoreau to Jérémy Berthod. In attack, Sidney Govou retained his place on the right to the detriment of Sylvain Wiltord.
The match began innocuously enough before Madrid fired the first warning shot. Robinho arrived just too late to connect with Beckham's raking cross on four minutes but the move immediately stirred the French champions, who responded with a low, angled drive from Carew which Iker Casillas comfortably blocked.
Guti was denied twice, first by Grégory Coupet, who turned his low effort over, then Anthony Réveillère, who miraculously cleared a fierce header from the midfielder off the line. At the other end, free-kick specialist Juninho Pernambucano let fly a couple of set-pieces, though neither troubled Casillas. Guti's luck finally changed five minutes before half-time when Mahamadou Diarra deflected Beckham's free-kick into his path, leaving the Spanish international to fire home from six metres.
The second half started as the first had finished, with chances at both ends. Lyon missed a golden opportunity to level when Cris sent a diving header centimetres past the post and Carew did likewise, snapping at a loose ball but misdirecting his shot after outmuscling Iván Helguera. For Madrid, Robinho raced in at the far post to lash a volley into the stands on the hour.
The visitors equalised midway through the half with a crafty piece of invention from Carew. Receiving the ball from Wiltord's cut-back with his back to goal, the Norwegian international back-heeled through the legs of Roberto Carlos, and Casillas could only watch it trickle over the line. It could have got worse for the Merengues in the 83rd minute when García fouled Fred 40 metres out and the resulting Juninho free-kick whistled just past Casillas's right-hand post. But it mattered little as Lyon did enough to earn their status as Group F winners.