Rangers 0 Lyon 3: Benzema double sends Rangers crashing out
Karim Benzema put the gloss on Lyons' night with a late 30-yard scorcher to round off an impressive display and send Rangers tumbling out of the Champions League yesterday. A Uefa Cup place would have been accepted when this tough group was drawn but will be mild consolation for Walter Smith's men this morning.
Lyons' 3-0 capitulation at home to Rangers in their first Group E meeting left them needing a win here to make the last 16. Rangers needed a point but Lyons went for all three from the off. They dominated the first half with incisive passing, rapid breaks and trickery that threatened to cut Rangers apart.
Juninho was at the heart of it and with a trio of pacy, mobile strikers - Sidney Govou, Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa - ahead of him Rangers looked susceptible. Juninho set up Ben Arfa soon after the start but the shot bulged the side netting.
A foul on Benzema by Kevin Thomson earned a free-kick on the edge of the box. Juninho struck it well but Allan McGregor, diving to his left, kept it out. Other chances went closer and Lyons' goal was scored by Govou after a cut-back from Benzema was palmed into his path by McGregor.
Rangers were not without chances, Steven Whittaker having an early shot saved; a second Whittaker shot was pushed away and Sasa Papac could only hit the rebound at Remy Vercoutre, who had earlier thwarted Lee McCulloch.
Approaching the hour Carlos Cuellar felled Jeremy Toulalan 25 yards out and bang centre; Juninho rattled the crossbar with the free-kick.
Rangers were guilty of sloppiness. Alan Hutton - being scouted by Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur - punted too early to team-mates storming the box. Papac lashed just wide and was replaced by Jean-Claude Darcheville, who is not fully fit. He came back too soon and went off too early, shown a red card.
The Frenchman will wonder how he missed from a yard in the 80th minute, just after Benzema had a shot cleared off the line by Whittaker. Benzema, however, did not miss on two other late occasions.
Rangers (4-1-4-1): McGregor; Hutton, Cuellar, Weir, Papac (Darcheville, 71); Hemdani (Boyd, 84); Whittaker, Ferguson, Thomson, McCulloch; Cousin (Naismith, h-t). Substitutes not used: Carroll (gk), Adam, Broadfoot, Faye.
Lyons (4-3-3): Vercoutre; Clerc, Squillaci, Anderson, Grosso; Toulalan, Juninho (Baros, 85), Kallstrom; Govou (Reveillère, 77), Benzema, Ben Arfa (Bodma, 67). Substitutes not used: Roux (gk), Remy, Belhadj, Keita.
Referee: M Lubos (Slovakia).
Darcheville: Late red card