Written by Staff Writer
“Lyon went the whole way” in Lyon , with the French side producing a tactical masterstroke to beat Manchester City 3-1 Wednesday and reach the Champions League semifinals for the first time in 20 years.
City had taken the lead in the tie through Raheem Sterling in the 10th minute but then endured a grueling evening as the home side frustrated Pep Guardiola’s side and pounced at the death.
By then City were already heading into extra time following Lyon’s equalizer from Anthony Lopes in the second half and then an injury-time consolation goal from substitute Nabil Fekir.
“I am delighted for Lyon and the fans. It’s a massive win for us,” said Lyon coach Bruno Genesio.
“It was a great result for the players and the fans. I am incredibly proud.”
It is Lyon’s first semi-final appearance since 2000 and it was City who started on the front foot.
Sterling’s first goal came when he beat Lyon’s back line and slotted into the corner. It was a marvellous finish by the England international but his night soon unravelled as he was carried off on a stretcher in the first half with what Pep Guardiola described as a “really bad” hamstring injury.
After his dismissal, City’s psychological edge was already gone and it was suddenly a stretched team as captain Vincent Kompany limped off with what Guardiola described as a “really bad” groin injury.
These are troublesome injuries for Guardiola and it led to City’s midfield talisman pairing of Fernandinho and John Stones having to concentrate on frustrating the excellent Lyon front pair of Memphis Depay and Arnaud Gabas.
Arnaud Gabas scored Lyon’s equalizer from another set piece, but did so from a similar distance to Sterling’s goal.
City’s task to come back became all the more difficult as the last 15 minutes progressed, with Lyon producing a fantastic build-up from a corner as Yoann Gourcuff fed midfielder Lopes to score.
Given the result, Gourcuff admitted that Lyon was the better team.
“I am very proud of Lyon,” he said. “Lyon is a team that deserves to be in the Champions League semifinals and we deserved to be in the semifinals.
“In the last couple of minutes I could not be more proud of the players. They never gave up. After the situation the squad made an incredible comeback, in added time with a penalty and then 90 minutes.”
City was reduced to 10 men just before extra time when Kompany’s hobbling away and Senegalese midfielder Fekir scored the winner in the 87th minute when he picked up a stray John Stones pass before squeezing a low shot past Claudio Bravo.
Fekir was delighted to have clinched the victory.
“This is the team of this group and we are a team,” he said. “After the victory, the players went to the dressing room, we had the roar of the fans, we have all been fantastic for each other and we all believed together.”
A three-time champion of the English league, Manchester City was expected to spring into action and snatch a victory in extra time.
But Lyon did just enough in the end and now awaits Real Madrid or Bayern Munich for the final.