Lyon 2-2 RB Leipzig: Depay completes comeback to clinch knockout spot

By Brendan McLoughlin 11 December 2019 7
Lyon 2-2 RB Leipzig: Depay completes comeback to clinch knockout spot

Memphis Depay struck a dramatic late equaliser as Lyon fought back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw against RB Leipzig and earn a spot in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Two first-half penalties from Emil Forsberg and Timo Werner put Leipzig – who were already through and needed just a point to seal top spot in Group G – in control at Groupama Stadium on Tuesday.

However, Houssem Aouar gave Lyon hope after the restart with a wonderful curling strike before Depay's instinctive 82nd-minute finish restored parity.

With Benfica beating Zenit 3-0 in the group's other game, Depay's effort propelled Rudi Garcia's side from bottom up to second at the Russian team's expense.

The onus was on Lyon to grasp the initiative, yet they got off to a dismal start when goalkeeper Anthony Lopes darted off his line and brought down Yussuf Poulsen.

A penalty was awarded after referee Anthony Taylor took a look at the pitchside monitor, and Forsberg sent Lopes the wrong way with a confident finish into the bottom-left corner in the ninth minute.

Lyon's job got even harder when Leipzig were handed a second penalty after Lucas Tousart's foul on Christopher Nkunku, and Lopes was unable to keep out Werner's spot-kick despite getting a hand to it.

The hosts almost halved the deficit when Moussa Dembele hit the crossbar in first-half added time, but five minutes after the restart the fightback began when Aouar cut in from the left and bent a stunning shot inside the far post.

Lyon were on course to drop out of European competition until Depay came to the rescue when he spun superbly inside the area and guided a low shot inside the far post.

Leipzig went close to regaining the lead with four minutes remaining but crucial blocks from Jason Denayer and substitute Marcal kept Matheus Cunha and Konrad Laimer at bay, though a point was enough to send them through top.


What does it mean? Garcia gains a reprieve

This could be a big night for Lyon boss Garcia. Despite only arriving in October, Garcia quickly found himself under pressure with the ex-Marseille manager's appointment having proved unpopular.

Domestic results have been inconsistent and exiting Europe at this stage of the season would have led to his position coming under further scrutiny. He will now hope the result can kickstart Lyon's campaign and his tenure.

Depay performing on the biggest stage

It may have taken a while, but Depay came up big for Lyon when it mattered again. The Dutchman has scored in all five of his Champions League appearances this season and became the first player for the Ligue 1 team to be involved in 10 Champions League goals since Karim Benzema.

Rash Lopes puts Lyon under pressure

Rushing out and fouling Poulsen meant Lyon were up against it from the ninth minute. Fortunately for the Portuguese, moments of brilliance from Aouar and Depay bailed him out.

Key Opta Facts

- Lyon have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League in back-to-back seasons, having failed to do so in their previous two appearances in the competition (2015-16 and 2016-17).
- Leipzig became the first away team to score two first-half penalties in a Champions League match.
- Werner has been directly involved in 20 goals in his past nine games in all competitions, scoring 12 and assisting eight.
- Depay became the first Lyon player to score in five consecutive Champions League appearances. He also became the first Dutch player to do so in the competition since Arjen Robben in October 2013.

What's next?

Second in the Bundesliga, Leipzig are back in domestic action on Saturday when they travel to Fortuna Dusseldorf, while Lyon host Rennes in Ligue 1 a day later.

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Brendan McLoughlin