By Enis Koylu
Tuesday's Champions League tie between AC Milan and Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA had a familiar ending to it: Mario Balotelli bailing the Rossoneri out, late on, from the spot.
In many ways, penalties have defined the Italy international's stay with Massimiliano Allegri's side. His debut, a 2-1 victory over Udinese, saw him claim all three points with a last-gasp effort from 12 yards, while he secured Champions League football for his side in controversial fashion with a penalty against Siena.
|ON THE SPOT: PENALTIES IN 2013
This season also saw him miss his very first spot-kick in professional football, when Pepe Reina thwarted his effort in the 2-1 defeat to Napoli.
But, despite the familiar sight of the 23-year-old stroking home from the spot, Milan are not the big club in Europe to have been awarded the most penalties in 2013. That honour goes to Borussia Dortmund with 12 in all competitions, trumping the San Siro outfit’s 10.
Unlike Milan, though, Dortmund have used a variety of penalty takers, with varying success. Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski have all shouldered the responsibility.
In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid have been awarded seven each. Cristiano Ronaldo took six of Madrid's, missing just once, while Lionel Messi has four buried of his five since the turn of the year, with David Villa missing one and Xavi scoring another.
In England, Chelsea have been awarded the most, with eight in all competitions, but have been fairly profligate. Frank Lampard, usually so reliable from 12 yards, has missed twice, while Fernando Torres has squandered one.
Their London rivals, Tottenham, meanwhile, have been awarded just two, in their opening two games this season.
The big guns in Ligue 1 have seen the referee point to the spot far less than those in other major leagues, though. Olympique Lyonnais lead the charts with six, with Paris Saint-Germain getting four.
Olympique de Marseille were given none until their late consolation against Arsenal on matchday one of this term’s Champions League, leaving them firmly adrift of the top spots in this particular table.
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