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Sevilla reaches knockout round after Lyon draw

08 December 2016, 11:32

Lyon - Lyon paid the price for missed chances in a 0-0 draw against Sevilla on Wednesday that saw the Spanish side advance in the Champions League and the home side drop into the Europa League.

Lyon needed to win by a two-goal margin to reach the last 16 by finishing second in Group H, ahead of Sevilla.

It showed plenty of attacking intent, striking the crossbar twice in a lively first-half, but failed to make the breakthrough.

In the corresponding fixture, a 1-0 loss in Sevilla, the French side also hit the woodwork twice.

"Regret is the word we didn't want to hear after the match. But we have a lot of regrets now," Lyon winger Mathieu Valbuena said. "We should have put our chances away, especially in the first-half. It's a pity because we played well, even though we dropped off a bit in the second half."

Sevilla's win moved it up to 11 points and three behind group winner Juventus, which beat Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in the other match.

Lyon finished three points behind Sevilla in third place and both matches were close between them.

"We closed them down very high up the pitch and caused them a lot of problems tonight," Valbuena said. "We played some good football, but that's not enough in the Champions League."

Early on, Valbuena darted in from the left and forced a brilliant tip-over save from goalkeeper Sergio Rico with a looping shot from just inside the penalty area.

Both sides then had strong first-half penalty claims waved away by Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson, who was close to the action.

Valbuena seemed to be barged over by fullback Mariano Ferreira as he cut inside from the left, and Sevilla midfielder Vitolo had his standing leg taken away by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes as he slid in to thwart him.

Vitolo was Sevilla's most dangerous player in the first half, but also missed a great chance in the 19th minute as Sevilla following a quick counterattack.

Running in from the left, Vitolo did everything right, drawing Lopes off his line and curling a shot past him, only for the ball to bounce back off the right post.

Lyon almost took full advantage of that reprieve when midfielder Corentin Tolisso somehow missed from four yards (metres) out in the 24th minute, meeting Brazilian Rafael's superb cross with a downward header that bounced up sharply and smacked the crossbar.

With Lyon enjoying its best spell, midfielder Maxime Gonalons beat several defenders before passing to top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, but the marksman was off form all night and his shot was too easily charged down.

Tolisso then used his strength and excellent technique to burst through midfield and reach the edge of the penalty area before feeding Valbuena on the left, and his superb curling shot beat Rico but struck the crossbar.

"It was tough for us," Sevilla midfielder Steven N'Zonzi said on Canal Plus television. "We've won the Europa League for the past three seasons. We knew it would be difficult because the Champions League is a level above."

Midway through the second-half, Lyon Nabil Fekir came on but the skilful forward failed to unlock Sevilla's defence as the Spaniards held on, with substitute Clement Grenier glancing a header wide and Rafael's shot fizzing across the area and wide in the closing stages.

"I'm proud of my players," Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. "We shook this team up, which is no mean feat."

- AP

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