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Ronaldinho told uefa.com that AC Milan's self-belief showed through as they came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against a determined FC Zürich side on Matchday 6 of the UEFA Champions League.
Milan eased into the knockout stages of the competition after the Brazilian playmaker slotted home a 64th-minute penalty, with Milan Gajić having given the hosts a surprise 29th-minute lead. The seven-time European champions certainly had their nerves tested at the Letzigrund, with memories of their 1-0 defeat by the Swiss side in September at San Siro clearly fresh in the mind. Ronaldinho's penalty, following an Alain Rochat challenge on Marco Borriello which brought a red card for the Swiss defender, settled those nerves though as Leonardo's men followed Group C winners Real Madrid CF into the last 16. However, had Olympique de Marseille beaten Madrid in the night's other game, it would have been a different story.
"We're qualified, that's what counts, that was our main objective," said Ronaldinho, who made it clear there was still plenty to do in their search for an eighth European crown. "Qualifying makes us happy, and now we have to keep working hard if we are to have a great season." Given the two clubs' contrasting histories in Europe and the fact that the eliminated Swiss champions were playing only for pride, some might have expected a relatively pain-free evening for the Serie A giants. "On the contrary, we were expecting a very difficult game, and we're glad just to have made it through," Ronaldinho said. "Qualifying didn't happen the way we had expected, which was to get the three points, but we've done it."
The Brazilian, who won this competition with Barcelona in 2006, had a ready explanation for the second-half improvement and the pressure which ultimately led to their equaliser. "We never lost confidence in ourselves," he declared. "We knew that it would be complicated, but we also knew that if we played well in the second half we would get chances to score and get the three points. Unfortunately, we weren't able to manage that part, but we did equalise and qualify."
The feeling that Milan will need to step up a gear was also made by Ignazio Abate, who contrasted Tuesday's laboured display with the impressive run of seven wins and a draw in eight games which has propelled them up to second in Serie A. "Our approach to the game wasn't that positive," he said. "They were able to play without any pressure and attacked well, with five or six men at a time, whereas we sometimes had only four or five, so it's not surprising we were in difficulty at times. Clearly, if we want to go all the way, the approach has to be more like it's been in our recent matches in Serie A. You could see it as a little lesson for us."
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