Henry salvages 1-1 draw for Barcelona in Lyon
LYON, France |
LYON, France (Reuters) - Barcelona put themselves on course for the Champions League quarter-finals when a Thierry Henry header earned them a 1-1 draw at Olympique Lyon in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday.
France striker Henry stooped to head home from less than a metre in the 67th minute after defender Rafael Marquez deflected a Lionel Messi corner towards the far post.
Brazilian midfielder Juninho put the home side ahead after seven minutes when his free kick from the left flank sailed over keeper Victor Valdes and inside the top far corner.
The French champions' pressure in the closing stages failed to produce a winner and they face a daunting task in the return leg at the Nou Camp in two weeks' time.
Barcelona, who slumped to a shock 2-1 home defeat by city rivals Espanyol at the weekend, rose to the occasion in the second half and it proved too much for Lyon.
"We missed our chance in the first half, when we should have been rewarded for our efforts but we gave everything," said Lyon coach Claude Puel.
"(In the return leg) we will have opportunities. We will have to be very solid."
After a cautious start, Lyon opened the scoring when Lyon captain Juninho's free kick caught the Barca defence napping to sail over the static Valdes and into the net.
The Barcelona's defence was again caught off guard by Karim Benzema a minute later but the France striker missed the target from just inside the area.
Although Barca enjoyed most of the possession, Lyon were sharp on the break and showed more aggressiveness.
However, Lyon were quickly reminded that Barca were not to be written off so quickly when Samuel Eto'o whipped in a low shot that crashed off Hugo Lloris's right post on 14 minutes.
Benzema also hit the woodwork in the 27th when he curled a shot onto Valdes's left post.
Messi had the Lyon crowd booing him throughout an ill-tempered first half after he theatrically fell holding his head following a Fabio Grosso challenge.
Barcelona sprung to life after the break and Lyon needed two stunning stops by Lloris to stay ahead.
A Daniel Alves free kick was deflected towards the goal in the 57th minute and Gerard Pique thought he had an equaliser from close range eight minutes later but both times, the French keeper denied Barca.
The visitors found the net, however, when Mexico's Marquez sharply headed Messi's corner on and Henry dived to score at the far post.
(Editing by Rex Gowar)
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