Mesut Ozil saved Real Madrid with a brilliant late free-kick to earn a Champions League point in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund in the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday.
Borussia were ahead until the 89th minutes thanks to a Marco Reus strike and an Alvaro Arbeloa own goal in the first period. Pepe had earlier levelled for the home side.
It could have been worse for Madrid as it seemed for long periods the Germans would repeat the 2-1 result from the first game between the sides a fortnight ago in Dortmund.
The result means, with two games remaining, the Germans still lead Group D with eight points, one more than Madrid, with Ajax three points behind after a 2-2 draw away at Manchester City.
City stand on the verge of a second successive group-phase exit from the compeition after the draw with their hopes hanging by a thread.
Sloppy defending saw City fall 2-0 down to a pair of early goals from Siem de Jong, and although the English champions rallied and drew level through Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero, the last 16 remains an unlikely objective.
The result left Roberto Mancini's men with two points from four games and even victories in their remaining Group D games against Madrid and Dortmund may not be enough to keep them in the competition.
The heat showed as Mancini and his players gathered aggressively around the referee and officials after they refused to give a penalty for an apparent foul on Balotelli in the last minute.
In Group A, FC Porto remain top of the group despite playing out a 0-0 draw at third-placed Dynamo Kiev.
Paris Saint-Germain held on to second place after thrashing Dinamo Zagreb 4-0.
PSG moved to the cusp of qualification with goals from Alex, Blaise Matuidi, Jeremy Menez and Guillaume Hoarau guiding the Parisians to a third win from four matches. It lifted them onto nine points, one behind leaders Porto.
Defeat for Zagreb extended their barren group phase run to 10 matches, eliminating them from this year's competition and leaving them as the only team yet to score.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was a constant thorn in the visitors' defence as he set up all four goals, told Canal+ after the match: "They had a good first chance against us. (But) we took our chances."
Schalke 04 came back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw with Arsenal to leave the Royal Blues top of Group B.
Having lost 2-0 to Schalke at North London's Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago, Arsenal shot into an early lead as England's Theo Walcott and France's Olivier Giroud netted to leave the Royal Blues stunned at the Veltins Arena.
But Holland striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pulled one back for Schalke on the stroke of half-time, then Peru forward Jefferson Farfan netted the equaliser miday through the second half to claim a point.
"It would have been a great victory, but they dominated the second half to be fair and before the game we would have taken a point," admitted Arsenal goal-scorer Theo Walcott.
"It would have been a great victory, but they dominated the second half to be fair and before the game we would have taken a point"
Arsenal striker Theo Walcott
In the other Group B game, Greek team Olympiakos defeated struggling French club Montpellier 3-1.
Olympiakos kept alive their chances of reaching the next stage with goals from Paulo Machado - only his second for the club - Leandro Greco and Kostas Mitroglu. They held on to victory even if Younes Belhanda had briefly got the visitors back into the game as he levelled with a penalty.
Victory takes Olympiakos onto six points, two behind leaders Schalke and one adrift of second-placed Arsenal, while Montpellier are out of contention on one point with two games remaining.
In Group C, competition debutants Malaga held seven-time champion AC Milan to a 1-1 draw at the San Siro to secure qualification for the knockout phase.
Milan, ousted in the quarter-finals by Barcelona last season, dominated the first half but spurned several opportunities before Eliseu put the visitors ahead against the run of play in the 40th minute.
Brazilian Alexandre Pato then gave Milan hope of a second win in the group phase when he levelled in the 73rd, but despite the hosts' push for a late winner the Rossoneri were to be denied.
In the other Group C fixture, Anderlecht defeated Zenit St. Petersburg 1-0 with Dieumerci Mbokani scoring on his return from a broken nose.
The victory kept Anderlecht in contention to advance from Group C as they jumped over Zenit from last into third place, behind AC Milan in second.