The Lions were denied series victory over South Africa as the Springboks set up a mouthwatering decider with a brutally dominant 27-9 victory in Cape Town.
Build-up to the second Test Match was dominated by South Africa's coach Rassie Erasmus' extraordinary hour-long rant, taking apart over 30 refereeing decisions from the first Test.
And the inspired Springboks came back firing as they utilised their strong set-piece in devastating fashion to take complete control after the break.
Dan Biggar and Handre Pollard exchanged penalties in a stop-start first-half as tensions spilled over on more than one occasion.
The Springboks took the early initiative as they capitalised on early pressure with three points.
Biggar responded by slotting two penalties of his own as the Lions found their groove with aggression in the breakdown.
But the Lions were let down by wing Duhan van de Merwe's moment of madness as he was sent to the sin-bin for a trip on flying opposite man Cheslin Kolbe.
The under-pressure officials were put under the spotlight again just moments later as Kolbe foolishly took out Lions scrum-half Conor Murray in the air.
After a lengthy TMO review, Kolbe was fortunate to receive a yellow as both sides were down to 14 men.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe kept his cool at the Cape Town stadium after a melee followed the incident.
Pollard then uncharacteristically struck a penalty wide but soon redeemed himself to level the match.
The Lions thought they had the first try when centre Robbie Henshaw claimed Murray's and attempted to ground over the line.
But South Africa had captain Siya Kolisi to thank for a remarkable defensive effort as his arm prevented Henshaw's finish.
Biggar made a penalty advantage count to nudge the Lions into the lead in a first-half dominated by ferocious hits and aerial battles as Warren Gatland's men registered no missed tackles.
Erasmus' side came out for the second period firing and prolific wing Makazole Mapimpi went over inside five minutes following a dominant scrum.
Mapimpi collected Pollard's pinpoint chip and powered over the line, but the Lions were let off the hook as the fly-half missed the conversion.
Gatland changed both his half-backs just before the hour-mark as Ali Price and Owen Farrell replaced Murray and BIggar.
But they could not halt the rampant Springboks' momentum as they scored their second try.
It wasn't without controversy either, as centre Lukhanyo Am was adjudged by the TMO to have grounded with enough downward pressure after chasing Faf de Klerk's clever kick through, despite suggestions he had no control of the ball.
Pollard converted to keep the Lions the arms length with a nine-point lead.
Gatland's men were succumbing to the World champions' relentless rolling maul as the Lions discipline suffered.
Pollard added three more penalties as he found his rhythm to put the Lions out of reach.
The Springboks scored 21 unanswered points after the break as they swarmed the Lions, leaving coach Gatland with plenty to ponder ahead of next weekend's decider.