Sparta proceed thanks to draw with Lyon

AC Sparta Praha 1-1 Olympique Lyonnais
The group stage's last 100% record ended in Prague as a young Lyon side drew with Sparta, who are through from Group I as a result.

Sparta's Marek Matějovský challenges Lyon's Yassine Benzia for the ball
Sparta's Marek Matějovský challenges Lyon's Yassine Benzia for the ball ©AFP/Getty Images

AC Sparta Praha joined Olympique Lyonnais in qualifying for the UEFA Europa League round of 32 after playing out a mutually beneficial draw with the French side.

A young Lyon team were on course for the club's fifth win in as many Group I matches once teenage striker Yassine Benzia scored his first goal in UEFA club competition a minute into the second half. Though the hosts – now 11 games unbeaten in all competitions – could not add to Josef Hušbauer's swift equaliser, the result was enough to confirm their progress and, in the process, Les Gones as section winners.       

Lyon started the encounter as the group stage's 11-goal top scorers, a statistic a much-changed lineup came within centimetres of extending on two occasions during a first half which occasionally threatened to flicker into life.

Benzia's shot from distance aside, Sparta goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík was underemployed. However, when he was beaten, by Yoann Gourcuff's inswinging, deflected free-kick, the crossbar intervened. Soon after, Rachid Ghezzal controlled, swivelled and volleyed narrowly past Vaclík's left-hand post.

The second period started with a flurry of excitement. Within a minute, the visitors were ahead through Benzia, who ran onto Gourcuff's delicious first-time pass on the half-turn and scored via the upright. Little had been seen of the Czech side in an attacking sense yet they swiftly levelled when Tomáš Přikryl, on seconds earlier, ran onto Leony Kweuke’s pass and squared for Hušbauer to drill past Rémy Vercoutre.