FC Cologne
RB Leipzig
Game Details
 By Ian Holyman

Lyon fans 'had only one option: to go onto the pitch' - Jean-Michel Aulas

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said his club's fans had no other option than to invade the pitch and delay the kick-off of Thursday's Europa League quarterfinal first leg with Besiktas.

The game at Parc OL was delayed after home fans flooded onto the pitch under a barrage of firecrackers thrown by visiting supporters, who were seated in the tier above them.

Though the pitch was cleared relatively quickly and without trouble, the match did not start until 45 minutes after it's scheduled 9:05 p.m. CET slot as authorities tried to calm the situation.

Aulas stayed with the Lyon fans who had been bombarded for the first half of the match having himself encouraged them to return to the stand in order for the game to take place.

"A number of those injured didn't want to leave straight away because of pride," Aulas told reporters. "With those flares, some had serious injuries; There were a certain number of homemade bombs that exploded above our fans, and so they had only one option: to go onto the pitch.

"It was fortunate they did, otherwise they would have been trapped by Turkish supporters who had forced their way in. Some of those supporters didn't have tickets. It was a very difficult time."

"With French law, when you sell a ticket online, you're not allowed to refuse to sell. We simply ensured that there were none sold abroad to avoid a certain number of things. They are very, very well organised. There were some Turkish supporters who shouldn't have been there who came from Germany. Someone sold them tickets. They're dangerous people.

"By convincing our fans to go back into the stand, we saved the match. And like in general, you're always rewarded when you do something good, our players really played well in the second half."

The match between Lyon and Besiktas was delayed after fans spilled onto the pitch.

He added: "I thought the match wasn't going to happen and it would have been a catastrophe for Olympique Lyonnais. The club would have been held responsible. We have shown we're an organised club, which knows how to take its responsibilities. I took them."

The trouble inside the ground had followed what had occurred outside it in the hours leading up to kick-off. Police had used tear gas in an attempt to quell disturbances between groups of Lyon and Besiktas fans on the concourse around the stadium, which was opened in January 2016.

"A match delayed by at least 45 minutes is not the best way to prepare," Lyon goalkeeper and Euro 2016 winner Anthony Lopes told media.

"Those are unacceptable things that we don't want to see in a stadium or elsewhere. It wasn't enough what happened at Dortmund? With more than 20,000 opposing fans in our stadium, it was certain there would be trouble and that it was going to be complicated.

"We had our families, our children in the stands. We were really affected. We needed to put that out of our minds. It would have been the best of things [not to have played]."

The hosts certainly seemed to have been influenced most by the events as they trailed by a goal following Ryan Babel's 15th-minute strike for the visitors. However, with a much-improved second-half display, Lyon came through to give themselves an advantage for next Thursday's second leg in Istanbul through goals from Corentin Tolisso and Jeremy Morel in the last seven minutes.

"It was quite incredible in that regard," Lopes added. "We took time to get into the match. We put in a great second-half display, quite incredible. We wanted to turn things around. We have to keep working."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman


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