Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Real Madrid against Lyon inside the sixth minute of the game on Wednesday night to offer his side a much needed early boost.
However, the team’s failure to multiply their lead or at least keep a clean sheet at the other end of the field cost them an UEFA Champions League exit.
It was Lyon’s young Bosnia player Pjanic who got the last word with a 75th minute equalizer.
Real Madrid eventually suffered their sixth consecutive UEFA Champions League Round of 16 exit.
Now the fact that Florentino Perez splashed a lot of cash last summer on buying superstars as well as the fact that this season’s European final will be staged at the Santiago Bernabeu makes it even more difficult for Real Madrid to bear their terrible fate.
Cristiano Ronaldo put up a great mental and physical show, using his full pace to disturb Lyon’s defenders and create more opportunities for his mates in attack.
But if Gonzalo Higuain was to blame for an underperformance, the bias referee was certainly the main man behind Lyon’s success at the expense of Real Madrid.
When Cristiano Ronaldo went down under a challenge from Cris as he was about to complete Real Madrid’s break away opportunity, it looked like the referee should have sent the defender off for a second bookable offense.
But that was not to be.
In the first half of the game already, Gonzalo Higuain had a genuine appeal for a penalty after he was tackled aggressively by two defenders in the penalty box.
Now as Los Blancos’ defense kept showing signs of nervousness, it was never a doubt that the former French Ligue 1 champions will score a goal.
Pjanic provided his side’s vital boost with a firing shot that Real Madrid’s Casillas couldn’t prevent from hitting the back of the net.
At that point, the Spanish giants had to score two more goals before reaching the Champions League quarter-finals ahead of Lyon.
But the French side’s back line was tight and with the support of skipper Cris – who surely should have been sent off midway through the second half – it looked even stronger.
In a space of 30 seconds, Real Madrid had two clear appeal on penalties but as time was running out and as the referee looked unimpressed, Los Blancos decided to play on instead of gesturing in vain and thus letting Lyon break away.
In the last minutes of normal time, Cristiano Ronaldo popped up with a firing low shot but Hugo Lloris’ hands were ready enough to catch the ball.
Twice, Lyon should have increased their lead through Sydney Govou and Lisandro Lopez but at each occasion, there was a dreadful waste.
The result remained 1-1, meaning that Lyon had beaten Real Madrid 2-1 on aggregate and thus qualified into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
For Cristiano Ronaldo, his dream of lifting the European trophy in his first year as a Real Madrid player is dead… dead and truly buried. Clinching La Liga title will now stand as the Spanish giants’ sole focus to found consolation.
Angela Asante, Footballfantalk.com