Milan and Madrid draw to move closer to qualification

MILAN, Italy, Nov 3, 2009 (AFP) - 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 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.

Real Madrid's Dutch forward Ruud van Nistelrooy (R) fights for the ball with A.C. Milan's Brazilian defender Thiago Silva during their UEFA Champions League group stage football match on November 3, 2009 at San Siro stadium in Milan. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. AFP PHOTO

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.

On 6 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 Filippo 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.

Source: AFP

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