Football Features

Refereeing chaos, more Ronaldo history and a historic Depay hot-streak as Juventus exit Champions League to Lyon

By Chris Smith

Published: 22:16, 7 August 2020

Juventus crashed out of the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage with a 2-2 away goals defeat to Lyon on Friday night. 

Having lost 1-0 in the first leg in France before the suspension of play, the Old Lady knew they would need a huge effort to make the quarter-finals but their task was made that much harder when Memphis Depay converted an extremely questionable penalty after just 12 minutes.

Juventus were awarded a contentious penalty themselves shortly after for a suspected handball by Depay and, typically, Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to fire home, while the Portuguese icon rifled a powerful left-footed shot beyond Anthony Lopes after the break to set up a grandstand finish.

However, it was not enough to save Maurizio Sarri’s side and given the pressure surrounding the Italian to deliver the continental success which has long-eluded Juventus, the Italian will now have to face up to his critics once again.

So, what did we learn from a dramatic night of Champions League action in Turin?

1. A night to forget for Felix Zwayer

The Champions League is back and the stakes are high. About the only thing you could ask for from an officiating perspective is for the referees not to seriously muck things up. That message apparently got lost in translation by Felix Zwayer.

The German had a disastrous night in the middle of this tie, first giving a penalty against Rodrigo Bentancur for a seemingly inch-perfect tackle by the Uruguayan on Aouar — a later inspection picked up the faintest hint of contact from Federico Bernardeschi but even then, it felt like an awful call.

Zwayer then turned his inept eye upon Lyon when giving a spot-kick against Depay for handball after being struck by Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick. However, the Dutchman’s arms were clearly tucked well inside of his body in a bid to avoid hand-to-ball contact. Depay was even booked for protesting what was clear innocence on his part.

The only thing you can say is at least Zwayer gave horrendously bad calls against both sides but that isn’t any consolation on his part — nor for Juventus, whose task was made that much harder by Lyon’s early away goal.

2. Ronaldo still manages to make history despite UCL exit

Juventus may have suffered Champions League elimination heartbreak again but not without Ronaldo first managing to make yet another little bit of history against one of his favourite opponents.

Prior to Friday night’s game, the Portuguese sensation had faced Lyon on no fewer than 11 occasions, winning five, drawing four and losing twice against the French side and scoring four times during his combined spells with Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Ronaldo bagged from the penalty spot during the first half of Friday’s encounter and unleashed a venomous left-footed shot to find a second after the break. Although it still wasn’t enough to send the Old Lady through to the quarter-finals, it did make him just the third player to score a Champions League goal against a specific opponent with three different clubs.

He joins penalty-taking goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt, who scored three times from the spot against Juventus during his career, and Ruud van Nistelrooy, who dunked on Bayern Munich for three different clubs, in this exclusive group.

Furthermore, Ronaldo now has 20 goals in his last 13 Champions League home matches, while in total, he has netted 67 times during the knockout rounds of his competition, 21 more than his nearest rival — we don’t need to tell you who that is.

In all honesty, with some better officiating and more clinical finishing from Gonzalo Higuain, Ronaldo would have been at the centre of more iconic celebrations with goals, assists and a truly memorable European comeback.

3. Depay continues UCL hot-streak upon return

It was a long road back to fitness for Depay after his horrific ACL injury sustained in mid-December, with the Dutchman not featuring again until Lyon’s French League Cup final defeat to Paris Saint-Germain at the end of July.

Friday was Depay’s chance to make his Champions League comeback and the 26-year-old picked up right where he left off before his injury, scoring a brilliant ‘panenka’ penalty to give Lyon a precious away goal to advance them to the quarter-finals.

That’s now six Champions League games in a row in which Depay has found the net for Lyon, with only Edinson Cavani’s seven-game scoring streak for PSG between November 2016 and October 2017 bettering that record among players at French clubs during the time Opta have been recording such stats. 

As if Depay didn’t have enough motivation against his former Manchester rivals in the next round, the Netherlands international will be keen to match Cavani’s record against City.

4. Sarri’s Dybala gamble backfires

Given the fact he sat out Juventus’ final two games of the Serie A season having picked up a thigh strain against Sampdoria in July, introducing Paulo Dybala at any stage of this match was always going to be a huge risk for Sarri.

However, the Argentine was there specifically for emergencies and the Old Lady did indeed find themselves in a red-alert situation, thus, Sarri brought him onto the pitch in the 71st minute as Juventus desperately sought the goal which would send them into the next round.

After just 13 minutes and nine touches of the ball, that gamble backfired as Dybala pulled up lame while receiving a routine pass, kicking the ball out of play and limping from the field.

It was the last thing Sarri needed given the pressure on him to deliver Champions League success, but an outcome which was always likely given Dybala’s lack of fitness.

5. Heroic Marcelo leads by example

From the moment Depay’s penalty was dispatched in the 12th minute, you sensed exactly what the narrative of this game would be: immense Juventus pressure put upon a Lyon defence fighting for their lives.

That is how the game panned out and although Lyon did concede twice, you can’t help but applaud a monumental defensive effort from Rudi Garcia’s side to make sure they did just enough to reach the quarter-final… just.

That rearguard effort was led by Lyon captain Marcelo, who put in a monstrously dominant performance at the heart of Les Gones’ defence.

The Brazilian veteran was constantly the man to thwart Juventus when it looked for all the world like his side were ready to snap, making no fewer than three tackles and two interceptions on the night while, time and again, he sent crosses into his box back from whence they came with five clearances.

Marcelo inspired and galvanized those around him to help Lyon wrestle a Juventus side with, on paper at least, superior talent right across the pitch and can now look forward to taking on the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Co in the last eight.