Cristiano Ronaldo crashed out of the Champions League last night as Real Madrid made it six years of failing to get beyond the last 16 of the competition. The former Manchester United man appeared to be heading into the quarter-finals along with his old team, but after a whirlwind start Real went out with a whimper, Lyons' Miralem Pjanic equalising with 15 minutes to go. Defeat means that there will be no third consecutive final for the Portugal international.
"We have to be more of a team and not play so much as individuals," the Real captain, Guti, said. "We didn't come out and perform as we should have done. It's a shame and now we have to think about the league, which is all we have left. All these years have been painful and this one too, much more."
Real's usually circumspect coach, Manuel Pellegrini, had thrown caution to the wind, playing Esteban Granero and Guti either side of Lassana Diarra in midfield behind a five-star front three of Ronaldo, Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain.
A wall of noise greeted both teams. Madrid had overturned a two-goal deficit at the weekend against Seville, finally grabbing the winning goal in the 92nd minute. This would surely be easier with only one goal between the two sides and Lyons struggling in Ligue 1.
The French resistance lasted just six minutes as Ronaldo ran on to Guti's spectacular pass to shoot left-footed past Hugo Lloris in the Lyons goal. The £80m boy had delivered and the Bernabeu erupted at a job half done.
It was Ronaldo's 21st goal in 61 Champions League games and it was exactly the start Madrid fans had wanted. Four minutes later they almost doubled their lead when Kaka ran on to another Guti pass in the same inside-left channel, only to shoot straight at Lloris. Higuain then burst through, but blazed wide under pressure.
Midway through the first half the white tide ebbed somewhat and on 17 minutes Lyons forced their first corner, with Sergio Ramos blocking Aly Cissokho's run. But normal business was soon resumed as Higuain so nearly put the tie beyond doubt, racing clear of Lyons' flat-footed back four, rounding Lloris but, forced slightly wide, he hit the post. Lloris then pulled off a superb save to deny Kaka after he and Higuain and Ronaldo had combined.
Lyons replaced Jean-Alain Boumsong and Jean Makoun with Maxime Gonalons and Kim Kallstrom at the break as their coach, Claude Puel, looked to pose more of a threat. The effect was almost instant, with Gonalons heading just over and Sidney Gouvou blazing over from Kallstrom's cross.
Ronaldo relieved some of the early second-half pressure with a run down the right and pass inside for Kaka but he wasted the chance, shooting woefully wide. Granero then missed from Guti's pass and was replaced by Rafael van der Vaart. The man who got that late winner in Madrid's last league game lifted the crowd and Ronaldo forced a free-kick with a mazy run but could only blast it into the wall.
Madrid's frustration grew and on 75 minutes Pjanic scored from a Lisandro assist to stun the Bernabeu. Collective heads dropped and Real threw on their old warhorse Raul – a symbol of the club's past but long since overtaken by the £250m worth of summer signings. It was like an admission that the multimillion euro attempt to build a Champions League team in just one summer had failed.
Afterwards, Real's director-general, Jorge Valdano, dismissed suggestions that Pellegrini's future at the club was now in doubt. "Yes he has a contract, which is why the club's plans are for Manuel to continue being the coach of Real Madrid," Valdano said. "It's a sad night because we were very excited about this competition but we are not going to exaggerate the situation on the basis of one match."
Real Madrid (4-3-3 ): Casillas; Ramos, Albiol, Garay, Arbeloa (Diarra, 83); Granero (Van der Vaart, 62), Diarra, Guti; Higuain, Kaka (Raul, 77), Ronaldo. Substitutes not used: Dudek (gk), Metzelder, Gago, Mosquera.
Lyons (4-4-2): Lloris; Reveillère, Cris, Boumsong (Kallstrom, h-t), Cissokho; Toulalan, Gouvou, Makoun (Gonalons, h-t), Pjanic (Ederson, 83); Delgado, Lsandro. Substitutes not used: Vercoutre (gk), Bodmer, Gomis, Tafer.
Referee: N Rizzoli (Italy).Reuse content