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Last-ditch León takes Madrid through in Milan

AC Milan 2-2 Real Madrid CF
Pedro León struck a 94th-minute equaliser after Filippo Inzaghi had turned the game on its head as José Mourinho's side advanced to the last 16.

Last-ditch León takes Madrid through in Milan
Last-ditch León takes Madrid through in Milan ©UEFA.com

Real Madrid CF booked their place in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 as Pedro Léon's added-time equaliser earned a 2-2 draw at AC Milan.

The Spanish side were heading to their first defeat in 14 games under José Mourinho after two goals from second-half substitute Filippo Inzaghi turned the Group G fixture on its head. Yet Madrid, who forged ahead through Gonzalo Higuaín just before the interval, had the last word when two of their own replacements combined, Karim Benzema releasing Léon to fire through Christian Abbiati's legs.

That the visitors came so close to losing was startling having dominated the first half with a display of attacking football that should have produced more than Higuaín's opener. The Argentina striker brought the best out of Abbiati while Pepe headed Xabi Alonso's free-kick just over the bar. Alonso came closer still with a long-range shot that flew narrowly past the far post.

The hosts could barely get out of their own half, grateful for a combination of profligacy – Ángel Di María was particularly guilty – and goal-line clearances from Andrea Pirlo, to deny Higuaín and Di María. Yet midway through the first period the Rossoneri should have gone ahead as Kevin-Prince Boateng broke through and teed up Zlatan Ibrahimović, only for the former FC Barcelona man to fire straight at Iker Casillas.

Ibrahimović lobbed another chance wide following an inspired pass by Ronaldinho, but just as Milan were coming into the game the visitors caught them cold. Di María was the instigator, slipping a perfectly weighted pass through for Higuaín to fire into the bottom corner.

But for Abbiati, Los Merengues could have extended their advantage. Cristiano Ronaldo's 25-metre effort was arrowing towards the top corner before the goalkeeper intervened. Then Milan, aided by the ever defiant Gennaro Gattuso, somehow conjured an equaliser on 68 minutes. A Pepe slip gifted possession to Ibrahimović, whose centre was spilled by Casillas and into the path of Inzaghi, who dutifully nodded in.

Only introduced on the hour, the veteran completed a remarkable double ten minutes after his opener, racing onto Gattuso's pass and slipping the ball under the advancing Casillas. If it looked like he had done it all before then it was because he has – that was a record-equalling 70th goal in UEFA club competition. It looked like Inzaghi's night, but Léon had other ideas.