Coach Gerard Houllier said Lyon were intimidated by Milan’s reputation in the early stages of their goalless draw in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.

“We showed too much respect to Milan in the first 20 minutes, so much so that I didn’t recognise my players during that period,” said Houllier.

“I think they just froze. In the second half we showed more intensity and 0-0 is a logical result and an interesting one in terms of qualification.

“It may be good for us. It puts Milan in the situation where they have to score in the second leg.

“It certainly was one of the best games I’ve seen this year and it proves we can challenge any side in Europe as Milan are clearly one of the best among the eight teams still in contention.

“A quarter-final is like two 100m sprints and we have just won the first one. If we win another one next Tuesday, we will be through. I know we can score in Milan and play much better than we did tonight. Anything could still happen in this tie.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti agreed the tie was nicely balanced at the halfway stage.

“We began the match very well and could have scored in the first 20 minutes but then Lyon began to play better and dominate us,” said Ancelotti.

“Despite this, they never really posed too much danger. In the second half we played a beautiful game, in fact it was a beautiful match between two quick teams with fair play on both sides.

“We came to play as well as possible, that is what we did and I think that [Lyon goalkeeper Gregory] Coupet was outstanding for them. Both teams have a chance of making the semi-finals but I think we have a slight advantage.