Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini claimed his team deserved to win after Tuesday's 1-1 draw with AC Milan kept the two most successful European Cup sides at the top of their Champions League group.
Karim Benzema gave Madrid the lead when he beat goalkeeper Dida in the 29th minute, but Ronaldinho leveled for Milan with a penalty kick in the 35th.
The game matched the intensity of the teams' first meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu two weeks ago, won 3-2 by Milan. But there was a joint lack of composure when attacking after the halftime break to leave both defenses firmly in control.
Both teams have seven points in Group C, one more than Marseille, which thrashed FC Zurich 6-1 in the other game. Zurich has three points.
"I want to talk about how we played in the first half and our attitude," Pellegrini said. "Only Alexandre Pato had a chance for Milan in the first half, but in the second half Milan's style made life difficult for us.
"In the second half, we held the ball better and by the end I would say we deserved the three points."
Madrid dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes, with Sergio Ramos and Benzema both hitting low drives narrowly wide. Milan finally came into the match in the 23rd. Clarence Seedorf led a counter attack and slipped the ball to Pato, who cut inside Raul Albiol but had his shot smothered by Iker Casillas after the goalkeeper had raced off his line.
Kaka was at the heart of the opening goal.
The former Milan midfielder raced through the defense and had a shot from the edge of the area that goalkeeper Dida managed to block, but Benzema was first to the rebound and swept the ball past the Brazilian.
Six minutes later, Milan was level.
Gianluca Zambrotta was pulled down in the box by defender Pepe, and former Barcelona star Ronaldinho hammered in the spot kick. The hosts thought they were ahead in the 37th. Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo hit a cross-field pass to Pato, who beat Alvaro Arbeloa to the ball in the air and shot past Casillas. Referee Felix Brych ruled out the goal for hand ball.
After halftime, both sides kept up the frenetic approach without creating any clear-cut chances. However, Milan's Marco Borriello should have hit the target with a header from Pirlo's corner in the 65th.
Milan substitute Filippo Inzaghi nearly won the match for in the 83rd. But he scooped his shot wide after Pato had found him unmarked at the far post.
"In the first half, they had lots of chances and made it difficult for us," Milan coach Leonardo said. "But in the second half we had a lot more chances, and in particular Inzaghi had an excellent effort.
"If I go on the first half, I would have to say that Real Madrid deserved the win as they played better and created chances. In the second half, I think the match was even. We created a lot of chances and it wouldn't have been wrong if we had won the match." In the dying minutes, Dida was twice called upon to stop shots _ first from Marcelo and then at close range from substitute Raul Gonzalez.
"I'm happy because I think we played well," Pellegrini said. "At least we didn't lose, but we are still on course for finishing top of the group. Normally, I am happy if the result reflects what we did on the field. But tonight definitely didn't reflect what we did."