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By ESPN Staff

Puel delighted with Lyon's first-leg showing

Lyon coach Claude Puel had nothing but praise for his side after seeing them come close to defeating Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-32 tie.

Thierry Henry returned to France to rescue a 1-1 draw for Barca last night thanks to a 67th-minute equaliser at the Stade Gerland.

But the Spaniards did not have it all their own way, with Lyon taking the lead in the seventh minute through a trademark Juninho free-kick and then threatening to add to their lead in a stirring first-half display.

Henry's precious away goal makes Barca favourites to go through but Puel was delighted with how his players took the game to the Blaugrana.

"I think we could have done better when I look at the chances we created in the first half," he said.

"There was a chance to score one or two more goals following the free-kick scored by Juninho, but I can't have a go at my team, who put in a great performance.

"Lyon are as good as Barcelona and were even better than them. Unfortunately, we could not make the most of our strong period in the match."

Puel admits his side will be second favourite to progress into the last 16 when the two teams meet at the Nou Camp in a fortnight's time but is not giving up hope.

"I am not big on making calculations like this," he added.

"What I know is that Barca were favourites and still are. But there is a second leg to play. This draw changes little in view of the return leg.

"In any case, we can't go to the Nou Camp and play for a draw. We know we have to score and we are going to prepare ourselves for that.

"It is still open."

Juninho, who once again proved how deadly he is at set-pieces, was more pessimistic than his coach after seeing Henry grab the away goal.

"Barca are now bigger favourites than ever," said the Brazilian.

"We are going to have to put in so much effort and have a bit of luck to go through. Of course I still believe, but I am also realistic.

"Before the match, I said we had to make the most of our chances. We had the opportunity to score a second but we didn't do it, and that's a shame.

"We picked up the same result last season against Manchester United but I thought we did better this year. Conceding the goal is the biggest regret I have."

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