Lisandro Lopez scored a last-minute equaliser to give Lyon a 1-1 draw with Liverpool and a place in the knockout stage of the Uefa Champions League.
|Lyon Michel Batos and team mates celebrate their late win [AFP]
Liverpool substitute Ryan Babel scored a stunning goal in the 83rd to make
it 1-0, but Lopez found space in the penalty area and coolly clipped his shot over goalkeeper Pepe Reina to severely damage the Reds' chances of progressing.
Babel picked up the ball about 25 meters (yards) out and hit a swerving shot into the top corner past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Lyon team leads Group E with 10 points, one more than Fiorentina.
Liverpool has four points and must win its final two games to have any chance of progressing.
Puel jumped off the bench and pumped his fist in delight as Lopez's goal meant Lyon joined Bordeaux in the knockout stage after just four group games, capping a good week for French clubs with Marseille thrashing FC Zurich 6-1 on Tuesday.
Five-time European Cup winner Liverpool looked a shadow of the team that
won the Champions League in 2005 and finished runner-up in 2007, clearly
lacking inspiration without its injured captain Steven Gerrard in tandem with Fernando Torres.
Lyon winger Michel Bastos found space to fire a shot that was easily grabbed by Reina in the fourth minute, but Torres should have done better in the 12th when he swung at a cross from the left and placed a low shot straight at Lloris.
Puel had to make two changes before the break, with right back Anthony Reveillere, who had been doubtful because of a calf strain, coming off after only 19 minutes and replaced by Lamine Gassama.
Lloris, who made some outstanding saves in the 2-1 win at Anfield two weeks ago, made another good stop with his legs to block Andriy Voronin's shot after he ran clean through in the 28th.
Liverpool defender Daniel Agger, who shook off a back injury to play, received a yellow card after chopping down striker Bafetimbi Gomis on the half way line when midfielder Miralem Pjanic had chipped a ball over the top.
Pjanic then limped off shortly before half time after taking a knock, leaving Lyon short of creativity in midfield.
Reina was called into action when Gomis ran through, having to sprint outside his penalty area to head the ball away early in the second half.
Lloris made a brilliant one-handed save to keep out a curling shot from Liverpool midfielder Lucas in the 67th.
Benitez replaced the ineffective Voronin with Babel with 20 minutes left, and the tired Gomis made way for France winger Sidney Govou shortly after.
Govou lost the captaincy recently after a late-night drinking spree at last week's Lyon tennis tournament.
Moments after Govou's introduction, Lopez found space inside the penalty area and forced Reina into a sharp save.
Fiorentina stay on track
Meanwhile, Fiorentina routed Debrecen 5-2 to stay on pace for a spot in the knockout phase of the Champions League.
Adrian Mutu opened the scoring in the 14th minute and Gergely Rudolf equalised for Debrecen in the 38th. Fiorentina then took control over a nine-minute span in the second half, with goals from Dario Dainelli, Riccardo Montolivo and Marco Marchionni.
Adamo Coulibaly pulled one back for Debrecen in the 70th and Alberto Gilardino restored Fiorentina's three-goal lead in the 74th.
Lyon leads Group E with 10 points after drawing 1-1 with Liverpool.
Fiorentina is next with nine, Liverpool has four and Debrecen none.
"We've got to stay calm and continue playing like this,'' Vargas said.
"We've still got two games to go and it's going to go down to the end.''
There were also seven goals scored when Fiorentina beat Debrecen 4-3 in Hungary two weeks ago.
With Fiorentina missing goalkeeper Sebastien Frey and playmaker Stevan Jovetic, Mutu set the tone by bending over to head in a bouncing cross from Marchionni for his third goal in this season's competition, having scored twice in the first game against Debrecen.
A header from Gilardino hit the crossbar in the 34th. But Rudolf equalised four minutes later, scoring with an acrobatic shot from the center of the area.
Dainelli's header in the 52nd was his first goal in Europe. Montolivo then redirected a cross from Juan Vargas in the 59th for his first Champions League goal, and Marchionni slipped through Debrecen's porous defense to make it 4-1 two minutes later.
Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli was livid after Coulibaly was left all alone to score with a header in the 70th. The Tuscan club's reserve goalkeeper, Vlada Avramov, playing his first game in Europe, got a hand on the shot but couldn't stop it.
Italy center forward Gilardino then rounded out the scoring with a header following a free kick from Vargas.
Debrecen defender Adam Komlosi was hit on the head in the seventh minute and exited bleeding. He was substituted by Zoltan Kiss.
Fiorentina also made a defensive change in the first half, with Alessandro Gamberini leaving with a muscle problem to be replaced by Per Kroldrup.