LYON, FRANCE // Jean II Makoun scored a stunning individual goal as Lyon beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the last 16 of the Champions League yesterday. The Cameroon midfielder picked up the ball inside the Madrid half, advanced to the edge of Madrid's penalty area and hit a looping shot over the head of goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 47th minute of the first leg match. "It's a good result, but we can have a few regrets as we could have scored a second goal," Lyon coach Claude Puel said. "It was a great performance from us, with a lot of intensity. We were well organised and physical. We had to raise our game collectively and individually and we did that."
Puel had special praise for Makoun, targeted by Lyon fans in recent games after some poor performances. "I am happy for him, he responded on the pitch," Puel said. "Some of the stick he got was way too much, it was unacceptable." Lyon beat Madrid for the third successive time at home in the Champions League, each time without conceding a goal, and kept Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka quiet.
"It was a very physical match, Lyon played with a lot of passion and they covered the ground well and marked us very well," Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "The result is not good for us, we've conceded a goal without scoring. We will need a very disciplined performance to turn this round, but I have faith in my players." The second leg is in three weeks at the Bernabeu stadium, with defender Marcelo and Xabi Alonso suspended after collecting yellow cards. Neither Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris nor Madrid's Casillas had a shot to save in the first half, but after Pellegrini tinkered with his line-up at halftime, Lyon soon took the lead.
Pellegrini took off Marcelo and on came Ezequiel Garay, but he backed off naively and allowed Makoun too much room and precious time to set this sights, picking his spot superbly as Casillas wandered off his line. Argentina striker Lisandro Lopez headed just over from Miralem Pjanic's free kick and shot narrowly wide after another mix-up in the Madrid defence between Garay and Raul Albiol. Lloris then tipped Ronaldo's curling shot just over the crossbar and foiled Gonzalo Higuain with his hand as Madrid came back at Lyon. Pellegrini took off Higuain and brought on Karim Benzema for the last 30 minutes against his old club. Benzema got a huge roar from the crowd at Stade Gerland.
The 22-year-old Benzema was an emerging talent when Lyon dispatched Madrid 3-0 at home during the 2005-06 season and then 2-0 the following year, both times in the group stages. Tuesday's performance was Lyon's best for quite some time. The French side managed to hold Manchester United and Barcelona to home draws in the past two years, but both clubs went on to win the competition, and Lyon hasn't reached the quarter-finals since 2006.
In Milan, two Wayne Rooney headers midway through the second half gave Manchester United a slightly fortunate 3-2 win at AC Milan in their pulsating Champions League last 16 first leg yesterday. Seven-times champions Milan, who had never lost to United at home or over two legs, were quickly ahead when Ronaldinho's volley deflected in off Michael Carrick following a free kick from former United midfielder David Beckham.
The hosts had a series of other chances before Paul Scholes swung at a Darren Fletcher cross with his right foot, the ball hit his left shin and then bobbled in off the post. Manchester United then became favourites ahead of the second leg on March 10 when Rooney netted with headers after superb crosses from Antonio Valencia and Fletcher. Substitute Clarence Seedorf pulled one back five minutes from time with a superb back-heel but Milan failed to equalise after huge late pressure where United's Carrick was dismissed for two bookings.
"We started slowly but overall I thought we were the better team, but I was frustrated in the first half because some people were not doing their jobs right," Rooney told Sky Sports. "At 3-1 I thought we were the only team likely to score again. But to win 3-2 at the San Siro is still a great result." Manchester United fans again noisily protested against owners the Glazer family in Milan's main square before kickoff but they were soon silenced at a rocking 80,000 capacity San Siro.
Beckham sent in a free kick and United left back Patrice Evra made a hash of a clearance, sending the ball across the box where Ronaldinho was waiting to lash in a volley off Carrick. The Brazilian is still not quite as sparkling as he was in his heyday at Barcelona but he produced several cute flicks and forced Edwin van der Sar into three neat saves. * AP and Reuters