By JOHN BOSCHINI
Real Madrid is in the driver's seat but still faces a dicey return leg if it is to advance to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in seven years after being held to a 1-1 draw by host Lyon. Former Lyon striker Karim Benzema gave Madrid the lead and a crucial away goal before Bafetimbi Gomis equalized late in the second half for the French side.
Early chances were limited to set pieces and long-range shots before Gomis missed a golden chance for Lyon in the 35th minute. Madrid keeper Iker Casillas failed to hold a cross and Gomis couldn't convert the ensuing, close-range rebound.
Madrid reasserted itself early in the second half with Cristiano Ronaldo's free kick and a Sergio Ramos header striking the woodwork in the first few minutes.
Jose Mourinho introduced Benzema shortly after and the striker was on the field less than 60 seconds before giving Madrid the lead in the 65th minute. Mesut Ozil shook off about three Lyon defenders before laying it off to Ronaldo, who slipped a pass through to Benzema. The Frenchman made no mistake from about 10 yards out to take his Champions League goal tally to five.
Madrid was poised to take a one-goal advantage back to the Bernabeu, but Gomis equalized with seven minutes to go. A Lyon free kick was deflected high, and Cris headed down to Gomis, who slotted his shot past Casillas from five yards out.
The two teams meet again on March 16, and Real Madrid will have to try and advance to the quarterfinals at the expense of a Lyon side that dumped it out of the competition at this stage last year. Here are highlights from the match:
CHELSEA 2, FC COPENHAGEN 0
In Denmark, Chelsea put itself in a dominant position over FC Copenhagen with a 2-0 away victory in the two teams' Round-of-16 clash. Nicolas Anelka bagged a brace as the Blues took a step in reversing their rapidly declining fortunes.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti caused drama before the game when Didier Drogba was left on the bench in favor of new-signing Fernando Torres and Anelka. But Ancelotti's lineup was vindicated just 17 minutes into the match, when Anelka capitalized on a defensive error from Lyon. Former Chelsea player Jesper Gronkjaer's back pass was intercepted by Anelka, who rifled a low shot into the bottom corner from just outside the penalty area.
Copenhagen never mounted much of an offensive attack, and the tie was put beyond much doubt seven minutes after the halftime restart when Frank Lampard found Anelka to the right of goal, and the French striker's shot cut across keeper Johan Wiland and into the goal.
Torres failed to score yet again but a couple of promising chances and 90 minutes on the field should give Chelsea some hope for its record signing. At the same time, Ancelotti must worry about his former No. 1 striker, Drogba, who reportedly refused to warm up with the other substitutes after being left out of the starting lineup.
The two teams meet again on March 16 at Stamford Bridge. Here are highlights from the match:
What did you think of Tuesday's games? Confident Real Madrid can hold serve at home and advance? Or do you see Lyon shocking the La Liga giants for a second consecutive season? Impressed with Chelsea's performance? Do you think Copenhagen has a chance?
Share your thoughts below.