Milan and Real share spoils
AC Milan and Real Madrid shared the points to leave both on course for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League. Karim Benzema gave the Spaniards the lead in the 29th minute, but Ronaldinho replied with a penalty ten minutes before the break. Alexandre Pato had a goal disallowed moments later, before Dida denied Raul a late winner in a dramatic game at the San Siro.
Both coaches chose form over tradition with their team selections. Filippo Inzaghi, just one goal short of Gerd Muller's all-time record of 69 goals in European competition, was left on the Milan bench, with Leonardo preferring Marco Borriello, who scored both goals in the 2-0 win over Parma at the weekend.
And Raul, who is just one goal behind Inzaghi on 67, was also benched as Real coach Manuel Pellegrini keeping his faith in Gonzalo Higuain, whose brace earned three points against Getafe. Kaka was given a warm reception on his return to the San Siro but, after he inspired Real to a bright start, that applause soon turned to jeers.
Sergio Ramos and Benzema both sent shots inches wide of the post, with keeper Dida clearly beaten on both occasions. Milan threatened against the run of play when Clarence Seedorf sent Pato clear on Iker Casillas, but the Real goalkeeper kept his composure to save with his right hand.
Real then took a deserved lead in the 29th minute when Kaka skipped past Seedorf, who practically invited him to shoot. His effort took a slight deflection off Thiago Silva, which probably did enough to prevent Dida from holding on to the ball. It spilled into the path of Benzema, who shot into the far corner from a tight angle.
Milan responded and were gifted the chance to equalise when Gianluca Zambrotta's cross hit the arm of Pepe, just a yard away from him, inside the penalty area. Referee Felix Brych pointed to the penalty spot and Ronaldinho blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
The game was transformed, and Milan looked to capitalise with Pato putting the ball in the back of the net. However, Brych saw something he did not like in the build-up and ruled it out.
There had been such a pace to the first half that the second 45 minutes simply could not carry on in the same manner, and so it was that the game lost its way slightly.
The best chance for Milan was squandered by Inzaghi - who, like Raul, was sent on as a final throw of the dice. He was on the end of an inviting cross from Massimo Oddo in the 84th minute, but Pepe did just enough to unsettle the veteran striker, who lifted the ball over the crossbar from point-blank range.
And Dida saved Milan in the 89th minute with a fine reflex save to turn Raul's shot behind for a corner, when it looked like Los Merengues were going to steal victory.