Football Features

Ronaldo frustrated in France – Winners & losers as Lyon see off Sarri’s Juventus

By Steve Jennings

Published: 22:03, 26 February 2020

Lyon shocked Juventus with a 1-0 victory over the Italian giants in the Champions League Round of 16 on Wednesday night.

The Ligue 1 side will take a narrow lead into the second leg in Turin after a frustrating evening for Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.

So who were the winners and losers at Parc OL?

Winner: Houssem Aouar

It’s been difficult to judge the true quality of many Lyon players this season given they are below where they want to be in what many consider an inferior league. The Champions League, then, is a better indicator of the class of player they possess.

In that regard, Houssem Aouar reminded onlookers of his huge potential. The 21-year-old was responsible for two of the first half’s most eye-catching moments: first a cheeky nutmeg that left Paulo Dybala embarrassed, then creating the opener with a surging run down the left and an accurate cut-back.

If talk of a move to a European superpower has gone quiet this season – mainly because of Lyon’s collective underachievement – it is sure to re-emerge soon, particularly if Aouar replicates this performance in the return leg.

With one goal and two assists, the Frenchman has been directly involved in three of Lyon’s last five Champions League goals, which emphasises Aouar’s importance to his side’s progress in the competition.

Loser: Maurizio Sarri

Juventus’ quest for their first European title since 1996 is at risk of going on for another year. A one-goal deficit is by no means unsurmountable, but there were genuinely concerning signs here and Maurizio Sarri will be facing plenty of questions ahead of a rather daunting second leg.

Daunting because, like it or not, his job could be on the line if Juventus are eliminated in the Round of 16 against a team they should be beating. The Italian champions had only lost one of their last seven knockout games in European competition, and that was away to Atletico last season.

Given that the best team in the world lost to Atletico in this competition just last month, Max Allegri’s Juventus can’t be criticised for losing that one. Falling to Lyon, however, is slightly more worrying – though it should be said the hosts were admirably resilient.

In any case, Sarri must find a way to turn this tie around in Turin. Can he rely on Ronaldo doing what he did to Atletico in the return leg last season? Time will tell.

Winner: Lucas Tousart

At first glance, it looked as if Lucas Tousart had gotten lucky with the opening goal, scuffing a finish that wrong-footed Wojciech Szczesny. On closer inspection, yes, the ball came off Tousart’s shin, but the midfielder clearly intended to put the ball back across goal.

The direction of the finish was key to beating Szczesny, who expected the shot to be placed elsewhere. And so, Tousart can quite rightly be proud of his goal, just his second in the competition. Those strikes have come against Barcelona and Juventus, proving he isn’t a player phased by the big occasion.

Tousart is set to join Hertha Berlin in the summer. The 22-year-old signed for the Germans in January and was sent back on loan to Lyon – the Ligue 1 side will now be even more pleased they were able to get him back for the remainder of their Champions League campaign.

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Loser: Cristiano Ronaldo

A sentence that is rarely uttered: it simply wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo’s night.

Aside from a couple of stunning touches in the first half, Ronaldo never quite found the sufficient openings at any point in the game. He was often crowded out and couldn’t get shots away, while his direct free-kicks hit the top of a determined Lyon wall.

As mentioned above, Juventus and Ronaldo drew a blank in the first leg against Atletico last season before Ronaldo stunned the Spaniards with a hat-trick in Turin. He might need to be in a similar frame of mind this time around if Juventus are to progress.

Winner: Bruno Guimaraes

Juninho Pernambucano’s role as sporting director at Lyon means there has been something of a Brazilian feel at the club of late. It was Juninho who hired his countryman Sylvinho last year, a decision that didn’t work, and it was also Juninho who sanctioned a deal for new boy Bruno Guimaraes.

If the early signs are anything to go by, Guimaraes is going to be a bigger hit among the Lyon fans than Sylvinho was. Playing just his second match for the club and making his first ever Champions League appearance, Guimares enjoyed an impressive evening against high-quality opposition.

The 22-year-old made more attacking third passes than any other Lyon player, completing 12 of 13. He was a little safe in possession at times, likely a result of the occasion, but his quality and potential were there for all to see. Remember the name.

Loser: Juventus’ forwards

It wasn’t only Ronaldo who endured a frustrating evening in and around the Lyon box. Paulo Dybala was also quiet as a result of the hosts’ durability. And when he did work openings late in the game, he was thwarted.

Most frustratingly, on one occasion Dybala managed to peel off his marker and smash the ball past the helpless Lyon goalkeeper. But a glance over to the linesman revealed a flag held high. Dybala rolled his eyes in a moment that summed up Juventus’ night.

Sarri eventually turned to Gonzalo Higuain for an added goal threat but he was luckless, too, fashioning one good chance for himself but only managing to find the side netting. Juventus supporters will be hoping the team’s front line is more productive in the return leg.

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