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Last-gasp save sees Lyon win group

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MADRID, Spain -- Gregory Coupet saved a last-gasp penalty to earn Lyon a 2-2 draw at Real Madrid that ensured the French side will progress to the last 16 of the Champions League as winners of Group E.

Coupet guessed right to dive to his left and beat away a Ruud van Nistelrooy spot-kick a minute from time, given after the Dutchman had gone to ground in the area under a challenge from Lyon defender Cris.

Lyon went 2-0 up shortly after half an hour thanks to a superb individual goal from the outstanding John Carew and a clever close-range finish from Florent Malouda.

But former Lyon midfielder Mahamadou Diarra put Real back in the game when he headed in after a corner shortly before the break and Van Nistelrooy equalised seven minutes from time when he poked home from just a meter out.

The result left Lyon three points clear of Real with 13 points from five games, but the nine-times European champions cannot overtake them having lost 2-0 when the two sides met at Stade Gerland in the opening group match.

Lyon went into the game without strikers Sylvain Wiltord, Sidney Govou, Fred and Karim Benzema but their absence went unnoticed as Carew put them in front with a virtuoso solo goal after 11 minutes.

The big Norwegian picked up the ball in midfield, skipped past centre-back Fabio Cannavaro with ease, strode into the area and then fired a pin-point shot past Iker Casillas and low into the corner.

Carew, who was a constant menace to the Real back four, almost laid on a second for the visitors seven minutes later when he set up Tiago with a great chance after carving his way past Cannavaro once again, but the midfielder hit his shot straight at Casillas.

The Ligue 1 side held the whip hand throughout the first-half and added a deserved second just after the half hour.

This time midfielder Malouda stole past the Real back four to poke home at the near post after Juninho had floated a free kick into the area from 30 meters on the right.

Real looked to be in serious trouble after conceding the second, but they managed to pull a goal back out of the blue six minutes before half-time.

Diarra became the first player to score against the French side in this season's Champions League when he powered a diving header past Coupet after Van Nistelrooy had headed a corner back across the six-yard box.

Lyon remained in control in the second half as Carew continued to torment the opposition defence, but Real managed to get back on level terms after another isolated attack.

Van Nistelrooy prodded the ball across the line after Raul had headed a Roberto Carlos cross onto the post seven minutes from time.

But the Dutchman blotted his copy book six minutes later with his penalty miss, while Coupet became the hero of the night with a save that guaranteed his side top place in the group.

Steaua secure UEFA Cup place

Meanwhile, a second-half goal from striker Nicolae Dica sent Steaua Bucharest into the UEFA Cup after a 1-1 draw with Dynamo Kiev in the other Group E match.

Steaua secured third place with four points after their 4-1 away win in Kiev at the start of group action to qualify for the UEFA Cup for the third time in a row. Dynamo are bottom of Group E with one point.

Dica scored a 69th-minute equaliser with a shot from the edge of the area after a fast counter-attack launched on the right by Banel Nicolita. It was Dica's third goal against Dynamo after scoring twice in their Kiev meeting.

Dynamo's Romanian midfielder Florin Cernat had opened the scoring after half an hour with a clever, curling shot from a free-kick on the right.


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Coupet celebrates his penalty save as Lyon drew 2-2 to finish top of Group E.

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