On Saturday, Lyon pulled off a surprise victory against Manchester City, securing a spot in the semifinals of the Champions League with a 3-1 win.
The French team had a great beginning, stopping Manchester City’s offense and ultimately scoring the first goal after 24 minutes with Maxwel Cornet’s clever shot from the edge of the penalty area.
In the latter portion of the game, the English team increased their intensity and it paid off when Kevin de Bruyne calmly scored to equalize the score. Later on, substitute Moussa Dembélé scored two goals to secure Lyon’s victory.
On Wednesday, Lyon will go up against Bayern Munich in the semifinal round, as Bayern Munich moved on to the semifinals on Friday by defeating Barcelona 8-2.
In a break from the norm, the upcoming semifinal stage will not include any teams from England, Spain, or Italy, marking the first time since 1990/91 and the first time in the history of the Champions League. Instead, two teams from France will be competing in the semifinals for the first time ever.
Belgian football player de Bruyne expressed disappointment after another disappointing elimination from the tournament, stating that it was “not satisfactory.”
“It is undoubtedly the same content. I believe the initial portion was not satisfactory,” he stated to BT Sport following the match. “We are aware of that.”
“We began at a slow pace with limited choices. However, in the second half, we performed exceptionally well. We managed to equalize 1-1 and even had a few opportunities, but unfortunately the final score of 3-1 sealed our defeat. It is disappointing to end the game in this manner.”
“The game was filled with opportunities, but they failed to generate much except for two scoring chances. We must take this as a lesson and strive for better. This performance is inadequate.”
The club is in need of alterations as Barcelona faces upcoming changes after their humiliating defeat in the Champions League.
Absorbing the stress
Manchester City, with its top players and renowned manager, was heavily predicted to defeat Lyon.
However, in the previous round against Juventus, the French team displayed resilience in their second leg, overcoming Cristiano Ronaldo and his team despite a five-month break from football.
@MDembele_10 scores the third goal! LET’S GO! #ManCityOL
The tweet was sent by Olympique Lyonnais on August 15, 2020.
Its durability was challenged right from the start. Manchester City controlled possession from the beginning, but were unable to generate any clear scoring chances.
Lyon’s counterattacking prowess led to the first goal of the game. A pass was played behind the City defense for Karl Toko Ekambi to chase. Eventually, the ball landed at the feet of Maxwel Cornet, who took advantage of Ederson being out of position and expertly curled a shot into the near post from approximately 20 yards away.
In the remaining portion of the initial period, Lyon and their coach Rudi Garcia executed their game plan perfectly. Manchester City controlled the ball but struggled to generate significant scoring opportunities, leaving them vulnerable to counterattacks from Pep Guardiola’s squad.
Following the intermission, the game became more dynamic and City, with the help of Guardiola’s offensive substitution, started generating opportunities effortlessly.
In the end, the pressure paid off when Raheem Sterling, a player for the England national team, used some impressive footwork to create an opportunity for de Bruyne to score by passing it back to him.
It appeared that there would be a single victor. Yet, Dembélé, a substitute for Lyon, had a different perspective. He received a pass near the halfway mark and scored under Ederson. A tense review by the video assistant referee ensued, but after a brief wait, the goal was deemed valid.
Despite being in a losing position, City was able to generate more opportunities, the most notable being a chance for Sterling. After some impressive footwork and a pass from Gabriel Jesus, Sterling found himself with an open goal from a mere five yards away. However, he ended up sending the ball high into the air and over the net.
Unfortunately, the mistake ended up being very expensive. Only 59 seconds later, Lyon scored another goal, with Dembélé taking advantage of Ederson’s inadequate save and securing a spot for the French team in the semi-finals for the first time in almost a decade.
During Guardiola’s tenure at the club, Manchester City has been unable to advance past the quarterfinals in the Champions League.
Although Guardiola believed that his team performed well for most of the game, he expressed frustration over Manchester City’s inability to avoid mistakes in the Champions League.
“In the future, we will overcome this obstacle of reaching the quarterfinals,” he stated in an interview with BT Sport following the match. “Apart from the initial 25 minutes, during which we had trouble finding ways to effectively attack them, the players were able to play with ease.”
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“The final 15 minutes of the first half were impressive. The second half was decent, we held our own. I had a sense that we were stronger, but in this tournament, a single game requires perfection and unfortunately, we fell short.”
In the upcoming 2019-20 Champions League semifinals, two French teams and two German teams will vie for a spot in the final. This marks the first time since 2012-13 that only two countries are represented in this stage.