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Lyon seal revival as Rangers slump

Rangers FC 0-3 Olympique Lyonnais Karim Benzema scored twice late on as Lyon earned the win they needed to advance at Rangers' expense.

Karim Benzema turns away after scoring Lyon's third
Karim Benzema turns away after scoring Lyon's third ©Getty Images

Sidney Govou's goal and a late second-half double from Karim Benzema gave Olympique Lyonnais a 3-0 victory over Rangers FC to ensure their passage to the UEFA Champions League last 16 at the Scottish side's expense.

Benzema brace
Lyon had lost their opening two Group E matches, including a 3-0 home defeat by Rangers on Matchday 2, but were soon on their way to completing a remarkable turnaround when Govou struck on 16 minutes. Substitute Jean-Claude Darcheville had Rangers' best chance yet after he hit the crossbar from point-blank range, Benzema wrapped up Lyon's triumph with goals on 85 and 88 minutes as Rangers had to settle for a UEFA Cup place.

Lyon press
Alain Perrin's French title-holders knew only a win would do and set out their stall accordingly, creating the first opportunity when Juninho Pernambucano picked out Govou's run behind Alan Hutton. With the goal at his mercy the French international shot into the side-netting. Juninho had been identified as Lyon's main threat and the Brazilian playmaker demonstrated why twice within a minute, first with a free-kick which Allan McGregor smothered at his near post. From his ensuing corner the hosts were relieved to see Brahim Hemdani's back-post clearance bounce off team-mate Carlos Cuéllar and behind to safety.

Govou strikes
The early pressure paid off on 16 minutes. Hatem Ben Arfa supplied Benzema down the right and when McGregor could only palm his cross back into traffic, Govou was the first to react, deftly lifting the loose ball into the net. Rangers responded with a long-range effort from Saša Papac which Rémy Vercoutre beat away to safety, but Lyon, and in particular Juninho, continued to enjoy the bulk of possession. Indeed, Rangers' urgency to get back on level terms left them exposed and Benzema almost punished them on 36 minutes with an attempt that flashed just over.

Fresh impetus
Rangers boss Walter Smith introduced Steven Naismith for Daniel Cousin at half-time with Lee McCulloch coming in from the left flank to assume the Frenchman's lone striker role. The change gave Rangers fresh impetus and within five minutes of the restart Sébastien Squillaci had to clear off his line after Vercoutre misjudged Hutton's cross-cum-shot. The Glasgow side's propensity for conceding free-kicks in dangerous areas almost cost them again when Jérémy Toulalan's mazy run was brought to a halt by Cuéllar outside the box. This was prime territory for Juninho and the No8's curled effort crashed back off the crossbar with McGregor helpless.

Darcheville miss
With 20 minutes remaining a Kevin Thomson shot had Vercoutre scrambling across his goalline, and sensing an equaliser, Smith threw caution to the wind by bringing on Darcheville. Benzema should have clinched it for Lyon when he rounded McGregor only for Steven Whittaker to block his shot. Within seconds Darcheville passed up an even better chance at the other end, somehow finding the woodwork from inside the six-metre box. It was the locals' final opportunity and in the closing moments Benzema sealed Lyon's ticket to the last 16, slotting in from close range before adding a spectacular third just before the end. Rangers' evening was compounded by Darcheville's late dismissal for a lunge at Kim Källström.