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Europa League Classics: Beşiktaş 2-1 Lyon (aet)

Watch this epic 2017 quarter-final decider IN FULL on UEFA.tv – after reading this.

The frame of the goal twice spared Beşiktaş in the return leg of their 2016/17 UEFA Europa League quarter-final against Lyon, but the fates were to desert them at the last in Istanbul.

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Context

Highlights: Lyon 2-1 Beşiktaş
Highlights: Lyon 2-1 Beşiktaş

Reigning Turkish champions, Beşiktaş’s new arrivals for 2016/17 included Dutch forward Ryan Babel and Switzerland midfielder Gökhan Inler, and Şenol Güneş’ side had come close to making it through the UEFA Champions League group stage before transferring to the UEFA Europa League and dispatching Hapoel Beer-Sheva and Olympiacos. Lyon had followed a similar path, beating AZ Alkmaar and Roma to set up this Beşiktaş tie, in which they scored twice late at home to earn a 2-1 lead to take to Istanbul.

Key players

Talisca: On loan from Benfica, the Brazilian forward burned some bridges back in Lisbon by scoring a late free-kick equaliser at the Eagles in a 1-1 UEFA Champions League group stage draw. Likened to Rivaldo, he was fast becoming a popular figure at Beşiktaş.

Alexandre Lacazette: Born and raised in the city, Lacazette had been on Lyon’s books since 2003, eliciting comparisons with OL striking great Sonny Anderson. In 2016/17, he was at his goalscoring peak.

2016/17 Europa League season review
2016/17 Europa League season review

Maxime Gonalons: Another academy product, Gonalons was a fine servant to Lyon in a defensive midfield role, albeit scoring was not his speciality. When his moment came, though, he showed his capability.

What happened

Buoyed by Babel’s first-leg away goal, Beşiktaş went ahead – both on the night and on aggregate – after 27 minutes, Talisca’s shot through a forest of legs beating Anthony Lopes. However, Lacazette replied swiftly with a delicious finish and came agonisingly close to a second before half-time, a bending shot rattling the woodwork.

Talisca headed the hosts in front again on 58 minutes – making it dead level on aggregate at 3-3 – and after subsequent efforts by Babel and Lacazette had tested the goal frame, penalties ensued. The first 12 shoot-out attempts found the target, before three consecutive misses left Gonalons with the chance to win it for OL. Despite an intimidating crowd, he stepped up and smashed in his conversion.

Reaction

'What a game!' - Tolisso reaction to Beşiktaş-Lyon classic
'What a game!' - Tolisso reaction to Beşiktaş-Lyon classic

Corentin Tolisso, Lyon midfielder: "What a game. What an atmosphere. It was a very tough game from start to finish, even during extra-time. We gave it everything tonight. Special mention to Anthony Lopes who saved those two penalties at the end."

Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyon chairman: "It is a great moment for the club and for [coach] Bruno [Génésio]. Our ‘family’ has been through a lot of trouble in recent weeks and we have managed to create resources through fraternity and solidarity. They proved useful tonight."

Bruno Génésio, Lyon coach: "We played a great match. We deserved to win before extra time, and even before penalties. We dug deep into our resources and values to qualify. If not a miracle, tonight's result is still a great achievement."

Elsewhere that evening

Three of the evening’s four matches required extra time, though only Beşiktaş and Lyon needed penalties. Celta Vigo’s 1-1 draw at Genk decided that tie within 90 minutes (agg: 3-2 to Celta). Ajax lost 2-0 at Schalke over the initial 90 minutes, yet progressed after extra time; while Marcus Rashford’s 107th-minute strike broke a 2-2 aggregate stalemate with Anderlecht to settle that tie.

Aftermath

Highlights: Ajax edge through after Lyon thriller
Highlights: Ajax edge through after Lyon thriller

Lyon’s UEFA Europa League campaign ended in the next round, though they put up a noble fight: 4-1 down from the semi-final first leg at Ajax, they rallied after conceding early in the return and were 3-1 up – with a man advantage – when the final whistle blew.

Lacazette scored twice in what proved his last UEFA game for Lyon; he left for Arsenal that summer as the club’s third-highest scorer of all time: 129 goals in all competitions. Gonalons also moved on, to Roma, having played 333 matches on all fronts for OL.

You can watch a full re-run of the game on UEFA.tv.

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