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Europa League

UEL: Lyon Pull Off Great Escape Against Besiktas On Penalties

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - APRIL 20 : Players of Olympique Lyonnais celebrate after winning the penalty shootout against Besiktas during the UEFA Europa League quarter final second match between Besiktas and Olympique Lyonnais at Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, Turkey on April 20, 2017. (Photo by Oktay Cilesiz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The great club anthem of Olympique Lyonnais is headlined by a simple chorus: “You’re not from Lyon if you don’t leap.” Metaphorically speaking, Bruno Genesio’s charges are built to leap, to rise to the big occasion and deliver, despite adversity and repercussions from the Union of European Football Associations.

Like that on their iconic crest, this Lyon team came into the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, Turkey with the heart of a lion, and though they didn’t run rampant, they were clinical from the spot. Lyon lost 2-1 to Senol Günes’s Besiktas JK on an Anderson Talisca brace in the 27th and 58th minutes but were able to convert seven of their eight penalty attempts to prevail 7-6 on penalties following a 3-3 aggregate draw and no extra time goals. Alexandre Lacazette scored in the 34th minute and Maxime Gonalons scored the winning spot kick after the home team missed their last two attempts.

With the win, Lyon advance to the semifinals of the 2016-17 UEFA Europa League. OL are currently fourth on the Ligue 1 table and technically are eligible to make the third qualifying round of the next Europa League. But with the top three very much settled, Lyon can punch their ticket to the UEFA Champions League by winning the tournament. However, due to their fan behavior in the first leg of this quarterfinal match, a suspended ban has their dreams of European success possibly put at risk if the ultras don’t conduct themselves with class. Both teams were also fined 100,000 euros.

Other teams that have advanced to the semifinals include unheralded Celta Vigo, who drew 1-1 with Genk to advance 4-3; AFC Ajax, who also backed their way into the semis on a 3-2 defeat away to Schalke 04 to advance by the same scoreline as Celta, and Manchester United, who are hoping to return to Europe after dismissing Anderlecht 2-1 on some Marcus Rashford heroics at Old Trafford to prevail 3-2 on aggregate. The draw is Friday.

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