Massimiliano Allegri was full of praise for Malaga following their 1-1 draw with Milan at the San Siro on Tuesday.
Malaga went into the lead through Eliseu, before Pato equalised for the Serie A side in the second half to share the spoils in Group C.
The draw ensures that the Rossoneri remain in second place in the group, but they are still under pressure from Anderlecht and Zenit and Allegri says Milan will now have to fight to the finish to earn progression to the next stage.
"It's a battle for the final two games," he said. "Right to the final match with Zenit everything will be in the balance, but that was always going to be the case regardless of tonight's result.
Pato's equaliser was the only goal conceded in the competition so far by the Spaniards and Allegri commended Malaga for their display.
"Champions League games are always difficult, especially against Malaga," he added. "They have great technique in attack and if you don't press them in their own half, which in the second half we did, then they will put you on the rack.
"Malaga went into our half about twice after the break. In two games we allowed them three shots on target and they scored two of them."
"The lads had a good game and we made some mistakes after the break in our passing, which can happen. We ought to be more precise. In the first half we did very well on the right side, while on the left Stephan El Shaarawy was too static and gave them more reference points.
"The team is improving and I was glad to see the intensity in the second half. Let's not forget we had four lads today who are under 24, so it is a chapter in their growth and maturity."
Pato's goal was his first Champions League goal in 11 months and the Milan manager continued his praise for the Brazilian, saying: "Pato was growing as time went on and this goal will help him to find confidence, as will the fact he played for 90 minutes with good intensity."