AC Milan, Marseille draw 1-1 in Champions League

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> AC Milan was held to a 1-1 draw by Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday to leave both qualifying spots open in Group C.

Updated: November 26, 2009 08:39 IST
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AC Milan was held to a 1-1 draw by Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday to leave both qualifying spots open in Group C.

Milan's Marco Borriello rounded Gabriel Heinze and shot past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to give his team a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute.

Marseille leveled six minutes later when Lucho Gonzalez pounced on a loose ball in the box and fired home after goalkeeper Dida had failed to clear a cross.

Madrid tops the group with 10 points after a 1-0 victory over FC Zurich, Milan has eight points, one more than Marseille. Zurich has three points and is out of contention, but all three other teams could still qualify for the knockout stage.

"The result was certainly not good," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps said. "Of course a draw with Milan is good, but we needed a win as the loss at home to them was a real slap in the face. Unfortunately we couldn't manage to get the win and we have to wait and see what happens in the final match.

"The dream is still alive. It is dependent on us but beating Real Madrid which won't be easy. Logic says that Milan will win in Zurich which means we have a smaller chance of progressing."

In the final round of matches on Dec. 8, Milan travels to Zurich and Marseille hosts Madrid.

"I think on another day we would have won the match," Milan coach Leonardo said, "but now we have to win the last game for us to gain the qualification place that we missed out on tonight.

Milan had an excellent chance to take the lead in the sixth minute. Andrea Pirlo chipped the ball to Gianluca Zambrotta in the box, but Mandanda blocked the shot and recovered in time to push Pirlo's follow-up away for a corner.

The hosts did not have to wait long before scoring, however. Borriello pinched the ball from Taye Taiwo, dribbled past Heinze in the box and slotted the ball between Mandanda's legs for his first goal in Europe this season.

Milan's lead didn't last long, though. Mamadou Niang powered down the left wing and sent over a cross that Dida failed to punch clear, and Gonzalez hammered the rebound into the unguarded net from the rebound.

Four minutes later, Fabrice Abriel cut in from the right wing and let fly with a left-footed drive that flew just over the crossbar.

Two long balls from Thiago Silva then caused problems for the Marseille defense. First, he picked out Borriello in the box but Mandanda raced off his line and smothered the ball.

Marseille's defense then allowed the ball to bounce into the area, but Alexandre Pato lifted his shot over Mandanda and the bar.

Pato created a chance for himself in the 57th with a flick and turn before shooting wide. In the 61st, Borriello drove his shot wide after Ronaldinho had set him up.

Marseille should have taken the lead in the 65th. Edouard Cisse slipped the ball through to Niang, whose low cross to the far post was missed by teammate Brandao with an open goal at his mercy.

"We should have scored with Brandao's chance at the end," Deschamps said. "That is perhaps the difference between this level and domestically. We have to develop so we can close that gap."

Both teams maintained the intensity to the final whistle. Borriello wasted a great chance when he weakly headed wide from close range in the 82nd.

With five minutes remaining, Souleymane Diawara rose highest at a corner but his header hit the inside of the post.

"We have to think about how we play and stay focused, because the permutations in this group are endless," Leonardo said. "But qualifying comes down to how we play: it is in our hands and to do this we need to stay focused."

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