Draw to Ajax puts Lyon's CL on brink

BY foxsports • November 22, 2011

Ajax is on the verge of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League after grinding out a 0-0 draw at Lyon on Tuesday.

Ajax goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer made a stunning one-handed save to deny substitute Alexandre Lacazette in the last minute, but Ajax had the better chances until Lyon rallied in a frantic last 10 minutes.

Second-place Ajax has eight points, three points more than Lyon, and a vastly superior goal difference heading into the final Group D game. Lyon must win convincingly at Dinamo Zagreb and hope the Dutch side loses heavily at home to group winners Real Madrid to turn around a current seven-goal deficit.

Lyon's overly cautious approach played straight into Ajax's side, and the French club's 'keeper Hugo Lloris was kept busy throughout at Stade Gerland.

After losing its last three matches and five of the last seven, Lyon's confidence was understandably low and luck went against Remi Garde's side.

Moments before Lacazette went close, Lyon had strong claims for a penalty waved away after Brazilian midfielder Ederson appeared to be shoved in the back by Eyong Enoh as he prepared to shoot from just inside the penalty area.

Lyon missed an early chance when striker Lisandro Lopez drifted past Toby Alderweireld and curled a shot that Vermeer palmed away awkwardly.

But Lyon could easily have gone a goal down as it failed to cope with Ajax's intricate passing game for long spells.

Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen sent a header just over from a corner in the fifth minute, and midfielder Christian Eriksen and Theo Janssen looked dangerous early on, finding space too easily as central defenders Cris and Dejan Lovren constantly backed off.

Lyon barely threatened, with Bafetimbi Gomis and Jimmy Briand both finding space but failing to test Vermeer.

Ajax finished the half strongly, however, and Lorenzo Ebecilio saw his half-chance deflected away in the closing stages. Vertonghen was a permanent menace on high balls and, from the ensuing corner, Lyon's defense hacked the ball away.

The Dutch side continued to look assured early in the second half.

The 19-year-old Eriksen, who has drawn comparisons with famed Danish playmaker Michael Laudrup because of his exceptional skill and vision, almost set up the opening goal in the 51st minute.

After swapping passes with midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, he burst through the Lyon midfield and ran at the heart of its defense before flicking the ball right to Miralem Sulejmani, whose close-range shot was expertly saved by Lloris.

Refusing to commit himself, the France No. 1 stood up until the last second and forced Sulejmani to hurry his shot.

But Lyon again failed to defend the corner properly, with Gomis heading the ball straight to Vertonghen, who forced Lloris into a leaping save with a powerful half-volley from 15 yards out.

Sulejmani had another shot closed down in the 59th minute as Ajax continued to pour forward.

With 20 minutes remaining, Lyon finally woke up as Bastos drew a fumbled save from Vermeer with a shot from outside the area.

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