Lisbon, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- Olympique Lyon defied predictions here Saturday, beating mighty Manchester City to advance to the Champions League semifinals for only the second time in their history.
For City coach Pep Guardiola, who hoisted the trophy twice during his time in charge of Barcelona, the outcome was another in a long series of disappointments in Europe’s elite club competition.
Pep’s tenure at Bayern Munich saw the German powerhouse crash out of the Champions League in the semifinals three years a row. With City, he has yet to even reach the semis.
The team has won two Premier League trophies, three Carabao Cups and one FA Cup since Guardiola took the reins in 2016. But it’s been a different story for City in the Champions League.
They went out in the round of 16 in Pep’s first season in Manchester and have now lost in the quarterfinals for a third consecutive year.
City began well in Saturday’s contest behind closed doors at Lisbon’s Estadio Jose Alvalade and Gabriel Jesus would have scored in the 3rd minute but for some heroics by Lyon defender Marcelo.
Content to let City have 72 percent possession, Lyon took nearly 10 minutes to create an opportunity in the form of a shot from distance by Marçal that Ederson saved.
A dozen minutes later, Marçal turned a takeaway into a counter, sending the ball over the top for Karl Toko Ekambi who let it roll on to Maxwel Cornet.
When Ederson came out to cut down the angle, Cornet beat the City keeper with a low shot just inside the near post.
As the first half wound down, Rodri forced a stop from Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes and Cornet had to be sharp to stop Raheem Sterling.
With the French club up 1-0 at the break, City supporters could be forgiven for thinking that curse of Lyon was all too real.
The Manchester side were winless in their last three games against Lyon.
Guardiola made his first substitution 10 minutes into the second half, replacing Fernandinho with Riyad Mahrez.
A little more than 10 minutes after coming on, the Algerian sent Sterling deep into the Lyon area. The England striker pulled up short and nudged the ball back to the onrushing Kevin de Bruyne, who equalized for City.
The 1-1 endured only until the 79th minute, when late substitute Moussa Dembele beat Ederson to restore the advantage for the French club.
Sterling was poised to bring City level again with less than five minutes left in regulation, but sent the ball over the cross-bar from close range.
On Lyon’s next possession, Ederson dealt with a shot from Houssem Aouar but left the rebound for Dembele to complete his brace and settle the tie.
The result translates into the first Champions League semifinal stage to feature two clubs from France.
Paris Saint-Germain will battle another underdog side, RB Leipzig, next Tuesday, for the opportunity to play the winner of the following day’s Lyon-Bayern Munich tie.
Among the semifinalists, only Bayern have ever hoisted the Champions League trophy. EFE cgg/dr