Last-Gasp Balotelli Penalty Rescues Point For Milan

by
Reuters
Mario Balotelli converted an injury-time penalty to rescue a 1-1 draw for AC Milan minutes after hosts Ajax Amsterdam looked to have snatched an unlikely win in their Champions League Group H tie on Tuesday.

Mario Balotelli converted an injury-time penalty to rescue a 1-1 draw for AC Milan minutes after hosts Ajax Amsterdam looked to have snatched an unlikely win in their Champions League Group H tie on Tuesday.

It was a frenetic finish to a match of few chances as both sides battled stoically in midfield before defensive lapses led to two late goals.

Balotelli coolly converted with virtually the last kick of the match, following a controversial decision by Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson to penalise Mike van der Hoorn.

The substitute defender looked more the victim than the aggressor as he tangled with Balotelli in the area.

The penalty, four minutes into stoppage time, came after Ajax had taken the lead through central defender Stefano Denswil in the 90th minute.

He rose unchallenged to head home a Lasse Schone corner, one of just eight efforts on goal in a cagey encounter at the Amsterdam Arena.

Milan go second in Group H on four points, two behind leaders Barcelona who maintained their perfect start with a 1-0 win at Celtic.

Ajax are third having picked up their first point of the campaign after losing 4-0 to Barcelona on the opening matchday.

Milan did not have a single effort on goal in the first half as they sat back behind the ball and comfortably dealt with Ajax's efforts to break through their lines.

The Italians seemed content with a point despite the relative inexperience of their hosts.

Home goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was called into action for the first time to keep out Riccardo Montolivo's effort from a Kevin Constant cross in the 49th minute, which marked a change of attitude for the visitors.

Balotelli had been largely anonymous in the first half but sprung to life after the break and came close with a looping shot just after the hour mark that forced another brilliant save from Cillessen, who managed to tip the ball onto the crossbar.

Ajax, who tired noticeably in the second half after some furious pressing, had an initial piece of good fortune minutes later when Denswil handled in the area but it was not spotted by any of the officials.

Cillessen made another good stop five minutes from the end as Balotelli was allowed time to turn and shoot in the penalty area as the game suddenly burst into life.

Ajax had only their second effort of the half in the 89th minute, forcing Milan keeper Christian Abbiati to concede a corner from which Denswil scored to set up a dramatic finale.