Sparta do enough
Sparta Prague secured the point they needed to move into the last 32, while already-qualified opponents Lyon lost the only remaining 100 per cent record.
Last Updated: 22/11/12 9:10pm
Sparta Prague secured the point they needed to earn their place in the last 32 of the Europa League, while already-qualified opponents Lyon lost the only remaining 100 per cent record in the competition but nevertheless sealed top spot in Group I.
A draw suited both sides and that was what transpired with a much-changed Lyon side taking the lead through teenager Yassine Benzia just after half-time before Sparta levelled matters almost immediately through Josef Husbauer.
The result in Prague leaves Lyon on 13 points with a game to go, while second-placed Sparta move on to eight points, meaning the cannot now be overtaken by third-placed Hapoel Kiryat Shmona, whose game against Athletic Bilbao was postponed.
Lyon coach Remi Garde, whose side moved to the top of Ligue 1 with a 3-0 win over Reims at the weekend, opted to rest a host of senior players for the trip to the Czech Republic and his new-look line-up did little to worry the Sparta defence in the first half tonight.
Sparta did not create much going forward either, though, and it was little surprise to see the teams go into the break with the match still goalless.
It needed less than a minute of the second half for that statistic to change, however, with 18-year-old striker Benzia latching on to a Yoann Gourcuff pass before firing past Tomas Vaclik to put the French outfit in front.
Lyon then almost made it 2-0 two minutes later, but Vaclik did well to parry Clement Grenier's curling shot.
Soon after that let-off Sparta coach Vitezslav Lavieka made his first substitution and the move paid almost immediate dividends with the newly introduced Tomas Prikryl setting-up his side's equaliser in the 53rd minute.
Leonard Kweuke put Prikryl through down the right and his ball into the area was slotted home by Husbauer.
That proved to be the last major incident of the match as neither side created much in the final half-hour as they both got the draw that assures them of the top two spots in Group I.