A late strike from Bafétimbi Gomis cancelled out Karim Benzema's opener as Olympique Lyonnais maintained their unbeaten record against Real Madrid CF and kept alive their hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
The Spanish outfit had lost on all three of their previous visits to Lyon, failing to score on each occasion, yet they set that record straight when Benzema registered against his former club in the 65th minute – barely 60 seconds after coming on. The goal rewarded Madrid for a much-improved performance in a second half in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos struck the woodwork. OL had the final say, however, Gomis slotting in from close range on 83 minutes to boost his team's chances ahead of the second leg on 16 March.
Claude Puel's charges started in positive fashion, creating a series of excellent crossing opportunities on the right only for Michel Bastos, Gomis and César Delgado to each produce disappointing deliveries. Delgado, who was replacing the injured Lisandro, looked lively early on and only a late intervention from Ramos denied the Argentinian a clear scoring chance after he had jinked past three players.
It had been a subdued first-half showing from the nine-time European champions yet they conjured the first two shots on target either side of the half-hour, Ángel Di María shooting straight at Hugo Lloris before Ronaldo's free-kick was pushed to safety by OL's custodian. There was more zip about the hosts, though, and they almost went ahead following a lightning counterattack on 34 minutes. Bastos roared down the left and when Iker Casillas spilled his low cross, the ball fell invitingly to Gomis whose shot deflected over off the goalkeeper.
José Mourinho clearly found the right words at half-time because it was a different Madrid that came out for the second period. Bastos seemed surprised by the increased intensity, losing possession to Di María and then tripping him up to earn a yellow card that rules the Brazilian out of the second leg. From the resulting free-kick, Ronaldo's sublime shot from the left side of the box flashed across Lloris and bounced out off the far post. Seconds later, Ramos glanced a header against the crossbar from Mesut Özil's corner.
The tide was turning and Madrid duly got their reward. Benzema had received a warm reception when he came on but the Frenchman quickly silenced the home fans by scoring with virtually his first touch. After some smooth build-up play from Özil and Ronaldo, the 23-year-old collected the Portuguese forward's pass in the penalty area, darted cleverly into the space to his right before sliding a shot between Lloris' legs.
The Ligue 1 side were unbeaten against Madrid in six previous meetings and refused to give up. Puel sent on Miralem Pjanić, Jérémy Pied and Jimmy Briand, and the Gones eventually grabbed the goal their efforts merited, Gomis side-footing past Casillas after Cris had headed Gourcuff's deflected set piece back across the box to send the teams to Spain level.