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Thu 21 Feb 2008 06:47 AM

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Lyon stunned as Tevez rescues United

Carlos Tevez rescued a 1-1 draw for Manchester United on Wednesday against Lyon.

Carlos Tevez rescued a 1-1 draw for Manchester United on Wednesday in their Champions League second round first leg match, levelling Karim Benzema's opener right at the death.

Benzema's low drive on 54 minutes appeared to have settled the first leg encounter but Argentine substitute Tevez bundled in from close range moments after driving a routine effort straight at French keeper Gregory Coupet.

The draw makes United hot favourites to reach the last eight following the return in a fortnight at Old Trafford, where they beat the French in a pool match three seasons ago after a draw at the Stade Gerland.

"I am delighted to get the draw and it gives us a a good chance to qualify," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who said United had made a complaint to UEFA after a Lyon fan shone a laser pen in winger Ronaldo's face before kickoff.

"I think it was a setback to lose the goal as at that moment we were in control," added Ferguson.

His counterpart Alain Perrin lamented the sucker punch."Unfortunately we couldn't hold out to the end and now we are behind having conceded the away goal," said the former Portsmouth boss.

"We have given ourselves a lot to do," admitted scorer Benzema.

After a first half in which United had comfortably held their hosts at arm's length Lyon came out fighting after the restart.

Benzema, top scorer in the French league, showed lightning quick reflexes as he latched onto a pass into the danger zone from Jeremy Toulalan and unerringly drove a left-foot shot low past Edwin van der Sar in the United goal to claim his fourth goal of the tournament.

Until the 20-year-old's dramatic intervention United looked to have their opponents' measure as they welcomed back a quartet of players rested for last weekend's FA Cup thrashing of Arsenal.

Ryan Giggs returned to make his 100th Champions League appearance and also take the captain's armband, while Cristiano Ronaldo, Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes also returned.

United had no real early storm to weather and Ronaldo had the first chance, firing wide on four minutes as he sought to take his European goal tally this term to six.

But Lyon, determined to rise above patchy recent league form, soon settled and almost drew first blood when Rio Ferdinand deflected the ball just past his own post.

At the other end Wayne Rooney, described by Lyon coach Alain Perrin as a "bulldozer", escaped two challenges as he embarked on a barreling run only for Coupet to smother his shot.

Hargreaves provoked the home supporters' ire shortly before the break by clattering into Sidney Govou, but Lyon's dead ball specialist Juninho floated his free kick over.

Once behind, United made a change in withdrawing Giggs and Scholes for Tevez and Nani, impressive in the win over Arsenal.

But it was Juninho, who almost doubled Lyon's lead with a free kick which dipped just wide of van der Sar's left hand post.

Lyon began their European campaign with a home drubbing by Rangers and only made it to the knockout stages by winning the return in Glasgow.

And the six-time French champions, who bowed out of the competition at this same stage last year with a 2-0 home defeat to Roma, will see this result as a huge missed opportunity.

Despite their exploits at Ibrox, Lyon's recent away form is poor with just two points from their past five league outings.

After just protecting their unbeaten run in Europe this season, United will now look to fulfil Ferguson's prediction that what transpires at Old Trafford will prove decisive.

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