Champions League: Mario Balotelli's late goal earned AC Milan a 1-1 draw with Ajax
Last Updated: 01/10/13 10:27pm
Mario Balotelli: Late penalty denied Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA
Ajax and AC Milan saved all the drama for the final few minutes as they shared a 1-1 draw in Amsterdam.
A largely uneventful match of few chances came alive in the 89th minute when Stefano Denswil headed in Lasse Schone's corner for Ajax.
But the home fans' celebrations were cut short seconds later as Mike van der Hoorn fouled Mario Balotelli and the Italy striker fired in the resulting penalty - a week after missing his first spot-kick as a professional.
Up to that point, the two teams had done an effective job of cancelling each other out, with the majority of those handful of chances they did create coming from set-pieces.
Ajax threatened early on, but Kolbeinn Sigthorsson saw his close-range effort well saved by Christian Abbiati before Viktor Fischer flashed a shot wide.
Abbiati was in action again in the 34th minute, tipping Lerin Duarte's free-kick over the crossbar, before watching on as Niklas Moisander blazed over following the resulting corner.
Milan had barely a sniff in the opening 45 minutes, but enjoyed the first sight of goal in the second half when Riccardo Montolivo saw his close-range effort pushed away by Jasper Cillessen, before Balotelli hit a free-kick into the wall from a good position.
At the other end Sigthorsson got on the end of a Siem De Jong cross, but his header did not have the power to worry Abbiati as he gathered comfortably.
Balotelli then launched a more menacing shot at goal but Cillessen was equal to it, a wonderful save pushing the ball to safety.
It was Balotelli again in the 85th minute but Cillessen once more made the block.
It seemed destined to finish goalless until Denswil nodded home, but Balotelli - who last week missed from the penalty spot in a 2-1 defeat to Napoli, subsequently getting sent off in the same match - earned a shot at redemption as Van der Hoorn was tempted into the foul, and he then placed his effort into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
The result keeps AC Milan in second place in the group with four points, two behind Barcelona and three ahead of Ajax, with Celtic propping up the others.
UEFA Champions League
Tue 1st Oct - Group G
Zenit0 - 0Austria Vienna
FC Porto1 - 2A Madrid
Tue 1st Oct - Group H
Celtic0 - 1Barcelona
Ajax1 - 1AC Milan
Tue 1st Oct - Group E
Basel0 - 1Schalke
S Bucuresti0 - 4Chelsea
Tue 1st Oct - Group F
B Dortmund3 - 0Marseille
Arsenal2 - 0Napoli
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|2||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H
CL matchday 2
Japan international Keisuke Honda's classy finish helped CSKA Moscow come from behind to beat Viktoria Plzen 3-2.
Arda Turan scored late on as Atletico Madrid fought back from a half-time deficit to beat Porto in their Group G clash.
Julian Draxler's stunning goal earned Schalke a 1-0 win away to Basel in UEFA Champions League Group E.