Lyon: On a scoreless night in the Uefa Champions League, not even Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez could find a way to get a goal.
Barcelona’s attacking stars were held in check by Lyon on Tuesday in a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the round of 16, leaving the French side’s hopes of causing a big upset very much alive.
Messi failed to add to his six goals so far in the competition, while Suarez had the goal gaping but sliced a shot wide with 20 minutes left after latching on to Jordi Alba’s pass from the left.
When wasteful Barca did hit the target, Lyon’s goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was in fine form.
Containing the five-time champions in the return leg on March 13 may prove far harder for Lopes and his defence if Messi and Suarez are back to their best. However, coach Ernesto Valverde warned not to underestimate a Lyon side that won at Premier League champions Manchester City and were unbeaten in the group stage.
“We are strong at home but there’s no denying that 0-0 away from home is a dangerous result,” Valverde said. “My feeling is that we played well, we were switched on. I think that we deserved a better result and did enough to win. It just wasn’t our night.”
“Lyon played well but their keeper was very good,” Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet said.
Messi had the goal in his sights in the last minute, but struck his free-kick into the wall and did the same with the rebound.
Both goalkeepers did well, with Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen making two fine saves inside the first 10 minutes from midfielder Houssem Aouar and forward Martin Terrier.
Although Lyon spent much of the half chasing Barcelona’s slick midfielders, Barca’s approach play too often broke down around the penalty area. Suarez was the biggest culprit, wasting several promising moves with unusually hurried passes.
Lyon coach Bruno Genesio acknowledged his side got off somewhat lightly.
“We gave them the ball back too quickly and that meant we were on the receiving end of wave after wave of attacks,” Genesio said. “We conceded too many opportunities for my liking in the second half.”
“The result is fine for us” we still have a chance to progress even if we know it will be tough,” Lyon defender Leo Dubois said. “We have the ability to go far.”