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Real Madrid 3-0 Lyon – Marcelo’s goal proves decisive factor

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By David Adelman

Thursday 17 March 2011

The game was not over when a deft flick from the boot of Angel Di Maria lofted the ball over Hugo Lloris for Real Madrid’s third goal. It was not even over when Karim Benzema took advantage of some very sloppy defending by Lyon to strike home the second and Jose Mourinho made a “let us wrap this up” gesture on the sidelines. The game was over as soon as Marcelo received the ball back from Cristiano Ronaldo and beat two men before slotting home the opener. Real Madrid finally broke their six year curse of losing in the round of 16 by pummelling Lyon 3-0 on the night, 4-1 on aggregate.

The nine-times European champions dominated the game from start to finish and Claude Puel’s side were unable to deal with the tempo of the Spanish giants. Although not as impressive as Barcelona in pressing and closing down their opponents in the first twenty minutes, after the first quarter of the game Mourinho’s side were hunting down Lyon players with the ball in packs so reminiscent of their arch rivals it was impossible not to see similarities. The lightening quick attacks and phenomenal work rate when not in possession echoed so strongly of the performance of Barcelona against Arsenal last week.

Before Marcelo opened the scoring on 37 minutes, Lyon did have some chances. Lisandro Lopez in particular looked bright and energetic. The French side used width effectively to release Aly Cissokho down the flanks to get some crosses in but nobody in a Lyon shirt was able to get on the end to convert. However the contest was effectively decided when Marcelo brilliantly cut in from the left, played a quick one-two with Ronaldo and finished superbly. Even though Lyon only required one goal to get back on level terms and erase the away goal from the first leg, they never really looked capable of doing so. When Benzema scored against his old club on 66 minutes the mountain was just too high to climb for Lyon’s players who were beaten and knew it. Di Maria added the final nail in the coffin ten minutes later with a smart finish.

However, despite being so dominant the game was not without moments of tension for Madrid fans. When Lyon managed to string several passes together Los Blancos looked vulnerable to pace and balls into the box. There will certainly be managers who would fancy their teams’ chances of causing Madrid problems should they get them in the next round. Lyon will be disappointed to have exited so early given how well they did last season getting to the semi-finals but a lack of quality was telling. Gone are the likes of Juninho and Michael Essien. Yohann Gourcuff has had a poor season and was unable to offer anything like the creativity of which he is capable. Puel seems to have something of a rebuilding job on his hands after tonight’s exit.

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