Real Madrid drew with nemesis opponents Lyon in the first leg of their tie for the Champions League quarter finals. Madrid's German stars, Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira, did little to dazzle and were both substituted.
Özil had his moments, but was closed down effectively
Real Madrid have had little luck beating nemesis club Lyon in the past, and were not able to change that in a game that saw both of the Spanish club's German stars substituted by their manager.
Benzema scored less than a minute after coming onto the pitch
Real had not won any of their last six clashes against Lyon and failed to hit the net in their last three away outings against the club that knocked them out of the tournament last year. This time they managed it - thanks to Lyon old boy Karim Benzema - although victory was yet again to prove beyond their grasp.
While Lyon looked the better side in the first half, they were not able to capitalize. The best chance of the first half fell to Bafetimbi Gomis, who contrived to hit the ball over an open goal.
In the second half though, it was Madrid who took control with two close efforts hitting the woodwork.
The Spaniards must have thought luck was against them when German referee Wolfgang Stark controversially failed to award them a penalty kick that could have been justified.
However, things picked up when substitute Benzema made his mark in the 65th minute - scoring after less than a minute on the pitch, thanks to a ball played in by Özil.
Not longer after, Khedira was substituted (on 68 minutes) followed by Özil (on 75) and Madrid appeared to take their foot off the gas.
There were consequences as Gomis made up for his earlier mistake with a late volley that hit the mark and preserved Lyon's unbeaten run against Madrid.
Germans score six out of ten
Spanish sports newspaper Marca awarded the German players a fairly average six out of 10 for their performance in the game. However, Marca questioned Özil's substitution by coach Jose Mourinho.
"[Lyon coach] Puel laid down a minefield and Özil stepped on nearly every one, which is to be expected when the entire burden of creativity falls to one player," the paper said.
"He could have been given a higher mark, but Mourinho substituted him just when the game was beginning to suit his talents - with space to run and launch counter attacks."
Mourinho was not happy when a penalty appeal was overruled
On Khedira the paper said he had "run a lot but played little."
"Nobody could deny his lack of involvement - or put him forward as footballer of the year," said Marca.
Football analyst Paul Chapman told Deutsche Welle that the Lyon defense had been very effective in dealing with Özil. "They did a very good job."
"A couple of times Mesut Özil looked like he might get into dangerous positions but he was quickly closed down. He was finding himself so closely marked. There was very little space for the Real Madrid players to work in."
As for Khedira, Chapman appeared to agree with Marca's assessment. "He didn't really get into the game."
Away goal is a big advantage
All in all, though, Chapman believes it was a fair result and that Madrid are favorites to win the tie, having scored a valuable away goal.
Anelka scored two in Chelsea's game with Copenhagen
"They will sit back and let Lyon come at them and, of course, Real Madrid have then got the players to break and cause problems."
"An away goal is so important at this stage in the competition because Lyon have got to do everything in Madrid. Although on paper it looks close at 1-1 each, I think Real Madrid are very much in the driving seat," Chapman said.
In Tuesday's other Champions League match, Chelsea secured a comfortable 2-0 away win over FC Copenhagen. Frenchman Nicolas Anelka was the scorer of both goals, putting his side well on the way to the quarter finals.
Authors: Richard Connor, Matt Zuvela
Editor: Nicole Goebel