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Lyon, Feb 20 (IANS) Favourites Barcelona were held 0-0 by Olympique Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League knockout stage tie.
The visitors dominated possession on Tuesday, 63 percent to 37 percent, and outshot the French club 25-5, but lacked precision in front of the Lyon goal, leaving everything to be decided next month when the teams meet at Barcelona’s Camp Nou in the second leg, reports Efe news.
In a signal to his charges not to underestimate the Lyon attack, Barça coach Ernesto Valverde started the more-defensive-minded Sergi Roberto in the midfield instead of Arturo Vidal.
The Catalan side were largely able to play their preferred high-press style and keep the ball away from their opponents. But youthful, spirited Lyon have the talent to test even a team of Barcelona’s caliber.
The first opportunity of the night in front of 59,000 spectators at Groupama stadium in Lyon belonged to the hosts. Barça goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen turned aside a shot by Houssem Aouar in the fifth minute before sending Martin Terrier’s strike bouncing off the cross-bar four minutes later.
Those chances turned out to be the closest Lyon would come to scoring and the initiative passed to Barcelona after the first quarter-hour, though they managed to put only two of their 13 first-half shots on target.
Ousmane Dembele forced a save from host keeper Anthony Lopes in the 19th minute and grazed the post with a shot in the final stretch of the first half, which also saw Lyon defender Jason Denayer deny Sergio Busquets when the keeper was caught out of position.
Little changed after the break and again, it was Lyon who created the first threat, a shot by Memphis Depay in the 52nd minute that went wide.
Depay and Moussa Dembele (no relation to Ousmane) continued to penetrate the Barça zone on the counter, but there would be no more scoring chances for the hosts.
After being largely invisible, Luis Suarez created Barcelona’s first big occasion of the night in the 63rd minute, only to be thwarted by defender Leo Dubois.
Two minutes later, Lopes dealt with a shot by Leo Messi after the Argentine combined with Ousmane Dembele, who was pulled in the 67th minute for Philippe Coutinho.
Suarez narrowly missed scoring in the 70th minute after taking a pass from Jordi Alba and Lopes had to be sharp to stop Coutinho in the 76th.
Less than a minute later, a Suarez pass found Alba in the area but the defender was unable to finish.
The substitution of Vidal for Roberto in the 80th minute supercharged the Barça attack and Lyon needed another great save from Lopes against Busquets in the 86th minute.
Messi missed a chance to win it with a free kick from scoring range in the final minute of regulation.
The draw left Barcelona without a victory in their last six Champions League away matches at the knockout stage.
Barça’s most recent win on the road in the Champions round-of-16 was in February 2016, when they beat Arsenal at the Emirates.
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