Milan and Madrid draw to move closer to qualification

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> AC Milan and Real Madrid took a small step towards qualification for the Champions League knock-out rounds following a 1-1 draw at the San Siro on Tuesday.

Updated: November 04, 2009 10:09 IST
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AC Milan and Real Madrid took a small step towards qualification for the Champions League knock-out rounds following a 1-1 draw at the San Siro on Tuesday.

Ronaldinho's convertion of a dubiously-awarded penalty cancelled out Karim Benzema's opener for the visitors as the stalemate left both teams a point clear of Marseille, who thrashed FC Zurich 6-1, at the top of Group C.

There was no revenge for Madrid for their 3-2 defeat to the Italians at the Bernabeu two weeks ago but they were the better side, particularly before the break.

It was all Real at the start of the first half as the visitors dominated, much like they did in the early stages of the home match, leaving coach Manuel Pellegrini believing they should have won.

"I don't talk about the referee's decisions, we played well in the first half and showed the right attitude," he said, declining to talk about the penalty.

"We had 16 shots (in the first half) and only one Milan player, (Alexandre) Pato, made life difficult for us. We were in control.

"The second half was more difficult in terms of possession but we did all right and at the end we had two chances that could have brought us the three points we deserved."

Milan's Brazilian coach Leonardo said a draw was probably the right result.

"If we look only at the first half, Real played very well, they had many chances but in the second I was a bit disappointed because we deserved to win," he said.

"We had good possession, we created many chances and we had the possibilty to win.

"Honestly I think yes, they had many chances in the first and it was more difficult for us, we didn't cover the pitch well but in the second half we had many more chances, even (substitute Filippo) Inzaghi had a good chance.

"It was very even, in the first half they had chances but they weren't clear-cut chances so think it was very even." On six minutes a deflected Benzema shot was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Dida while Sergio Ramos fired just wide in the 13th minute.

Just after that Gonzalo Higuain made space for himself on the edge of the box but curled his effort over before Benzema held off Alessandro Nesta in the area after latching onto Marcelo's pass in the 20th minute but fired wide of the far post.

Milan finally came to life in the 24th minute with a quick break as Clarence Seedorf fed Alexandre Pato, who cut inside Alvaro Arbeloa but Iker Casillas came out and spread himself well to block the Brazilian's shot.

Real deservedly went in front in the 29th minute as former Milan star Kaka beat Seedorf on the edge of the area and fired in a fierce daisy-cutter that was too hot for Dida to handle, allowing Benzema to fire the rebound into the far corner for his first goal in seven matches.

But 10 minutes from the break Ronaldinho equalised from the spot after Pepe was harshly penalised for handball when he slid in rashly to block Zambrotta's cross, the ball hitting his arm from barely a yard away.

Moments later Pato brilliantly took a long ball from Andrea Pirlo on his chest, held off Raul Albiol and shot past Casillas and in off the far post but he was penalised for a foul that was not clear, although the Brazilian didn't protest.

The first clear chance of the second period went to Milan but captain Massimo Ambrosini somehow headed Pirlo's free-kick miles wide from five yards out.

Just as they had done in Madrid, Milan were giving a much better account of themselves in the second half and Marco Borriello rose highest in the box but glanced his header from Pirlo's corner well wide.

In the last 10 minutes Inzaghi came on for Borriello and he came within inches of scoring a winner when Pato's right wing cross found him eight yards out but falling over he directed the ball up and onto the roof of the net.

And another sub, Raul of Real, was denied in the last minute as Dida, making up for his gaffe in Spain, made a stunning one-handed save to deny the Spaniard.

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