Olympique Lyonnais secured first place in UEFA Champions League Group E despite letting a two-goal lead slip at Real Madrid CF, although it took Grégory Coupet's last-minute penalty save from Ruud van Nistelrooy to preserve their point.
Needing a draw to win the group, Lyon swept into a 2-0 lead by the 31st minute, exposing some static Madrid defending with strikes from John Carew and Florent Malouda. The Spanish side quickly rallied, however, and former Lyon midfielder Mahamadou Diarra headed a goal in the 39th minute before Van Nistelrooy levelled from close range seven minutes from time. The Dutch forward then earned a penalty whose successful conversion would have meant the group winners being decided on Matchday 6, but Coupet dived to his left to keep out the spot-kick.
Lyon coach Gérard Houllier had insisted the knowledge that qualification was already assured would give both teams the freedom to produce an open and entertaining spectacle, and his words proved prophetic as Lyon went ahead in the eleventh minute. Carew, who had scored in the corresponding fixture last season and tormented the Madrid back four throughout the first half, received the ball in a central position before gliding through Fabio Cannavaro's challenge and prodding past Iker Casillas. Madrid's problems were compounded when Guti was forced off following a challenge with Jérémy Toulalan. José Antonio Reyes took his place.
With Lyon continuing to pass the ball skilfully and at pace, it was little surprise when the French champions doubled their advantage a minute past the half-hour. Yet again it was a set-piece from captain Juninho Pernambucano that did the damage, the unmarked Malouda meeting the Brazilian's pinpoint right-wing free-kick with an emphatic volley. The shock of conceding twice at home in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in more than two years sparked a rallying cry from the home support and the Merengues responded by pulling one back six minutes before the break. Reyes's left-wing corner was forced back across goal by Van Nistelrooy and Diarra dived in to nod Madrid back into contention against his old club.
Chances at both ends
Both teams remained threatening in the early stages of the second period as a driven Roberto Carlos free-kick was deflected out to Sergio Ramos, who failed to control having found space. Carew then went close with a strike from an angle that was touched to safety by the alert Casillas, but Madrid replied with Van Nistelrooy and Raúl González creating the opportunity for Robinho to volley over. Play quickly returned to the other end and Malouda might have done better after turning inside Iván Helguera only to blaze over.
Van Nistelrooy involvement
Madrid finally pulled level when Raúl met Roberto Carlos's left-wing centre and, although his header hit the right-hand post, the ball rolled perfectly for Van Nistelrooy to slam in his fourth goal in the competition this term. Then, in the final minute, the former Manchester United FC player was upended by Cris and presented with the chance to secure victory, but for the second successive UEFA Champions League match, he failed from the spot. Lyon end their campaign at home to FC Steaua Bucuresti while Madrid visit FC Dynamo Kyiv, with Malouda and Sergio Ramos sitting out those games through suspension.