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AC Milan 1-1 Real Madrid: Benzema And Ronaldinho Strike In Stalemate


AC Milan and Real Madrid ensured an interesting last two matches in their Champions League group with an entertaining 1-1 draw at San Siro. With Marseille winning the other fixture, against FC Zurich, three of these teams still have it all to fight for in terms of the knock-out rounds.

The touch-paper on Europe's most eagerly awaited clash of the evening was lit around the half-hour mark, when the guests took a deserved one goal lead. However, los Merengues' dominance was not for the lasting as Milan equalised five minutes later through a hotly contested penalty kick. By the time the half-time whistle came around, referee Brych had a hard time keeping the opposition players from each others' throats.

Twenty-nine minutes had elapsed when Kaka showed San Siro what it was missing, elegantly evading Massimo Oddo and Clarence Seedorf, before dispatching a shot goalwards. Dida could not handle the bobbling ball and Karim Benzema stroked in his first Champions League goal for his new club from the rebound.

The opener roused a hitherto torpid Milan into life with Gianluca Zambrotta beginning to raid Sergio Ramos' flank with rewards to come. From one such sortie, he located the elbow of a sliding Pepe, for which the official saw fit to offer a penalty. Ronaldinho dispatched one more goal past his old foes emphatically.

Milan may have added a quick-fire second when Alexandre Pato beat Alvaro Arbeloa in the air and then found the net with a half volley, but the effort was annulled due to a perceived foul by the young Brazilian in the build-up.

Pato was Milan's sharpest attacking threat, pinning Arbeloa in throughout the game and forcing Iker Casillas into his only save of the first half after turning both the former Liverpool full-back and Raul Albiol.

Madrid, in contrast, peppered Dida's angles from the start of the period until the end through Gonzalo Higuan, Benzema and Lassana Diarra.

Sergio Ramos almost capped the move of the first half when his volley, off Benzema's chest-down, whistled past the post early on. Moved further up-field, Marcelo was causing trouble too with his pace and trickery. Kaka, aside from the goal, was struggling for the space in which he thrives; the forceful Massimo Ambrosini saw to that.

Seedorf and Diarra were enjoying the most of intriguing of tussles against one another and that was perhaps a microcosm of proceedings elsewhere with both sides nullified as time progressed.

Through the second half, chances were hard to come by with Milan relying on their set-piece prowess and Madrid their shooting from distance. Neither worked, despite the best endeavours of Pirlo on one side and Kaka and Benzema on the other. However, Ambrosini might have done better with a Pirlo cross on the hour when his header flew wide.

It took the introduction of Pippo Inzaghi to find space in the tightest of encounters as it ebbed towards its conclusion; the veteran had two shots, both wide, and should have done better from his first. Pato's cross forced Pepe into an error but 'Super Pippo' could not correct his stance in the centre in order to force the ball over the line.

At the other end, Madrid's own legend, Raul, was sprung from the bench and he had a great late chance to commandeer the headlines. His swift turn in the area was matched by a shot which was kept out with a strong palm by Dida. Moments before, Marcelo forced much the same thing.

The fireworks faded as the time ticked by, and both sides still have work to do to qualify.

Peter Staunton, Goal.com