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Lyon hold AC Milan goalless
March 30, 2006 10:21 IST
Six-times winners AC Milan held Olympique Lyon to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Stade Gerland on Wednesday.
The result makes the Italians favourites to go through after next Tuesday's second leg at the San Siro.
"We had a great second half, creating two or three clear chances to find the net and it's a shame it ended in a draw," Lyon coach Gerard Houllier told reporters.
"It was the sort of match we expected. The guys showed great will and were patient, even though it failed to pay off."
Milan gave a typically strong defensive performance as Ligue 1 leaders Lyon failed to score for only the third time in 45 matches.
The French side kept up their unbeaten run in this season's competition despite not finding the net for the first time.
Lyon, without Brazilian playmaker Juninho due to suspension, took a while to find their rhythm as Milan dominated thanks to the inspirational Andrea Pirlo and the tireless Gennaro Gattuso.
Goalkeeper Gregory Coupet made two fine saves to deny former European Footballer of the Year Andriy Shevchenko early on.
Lyon eventually lifted their game and created their first chance, Brazilian keeper Dida saving well after John Carew had deflected a free kick from Benoit Pedretti in the 26th minute.
Technically superior and better organised, Milan left little room for Lyon's forwards with defenders Alessandro Nesta and Kakha Kaladze outstanding.
Coupet again thwarted Shevchenko in the last minute of the first half.
"We showed them too much respect in the first 20 minutes and we can consider ourselves lucky we reached the interval level," said Coupet.
"We played much better in the second half."
Lyon definitely moved up a gear after the interval to increase the pressure on Milan's defence.
Portugal midfielder Tiago, who scored twice in the 4-0 rout of PSV Eindhoven in the previous round, had a 56th-minute shot deflected by Kaladze's back with Dida beaten.
Tiago will miss the second leg through suspension after he was booked for a foul on Kaka in stoppage time.
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage