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UEFA Champions League
December 11, 2013
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 61744
With the group stages over, here are the teams who have made it through. Champions League group winners: Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund. Runners-up: Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Olympiakos, Manchester City, Arsenal, Schalke, Zenit, Milan. The draw for the round of 16 will be made on December 16 where all the sides await their fate. That's all from me, Max Bentley. Until next time, goodbye.
That result means that Milan go through to the Champions League knockout stages as runners-up behind Barcelona. Ajax will have to settle for the Europa League with Celtic heading out of Europe all together.
FT: Milan 0-0 Ajax. The Rossoneri become the only Italian team to make it through to the last-16 after a hard-fought stalemate at the Giuseppe Meazza. Riccardo Montolivo's red card put them on the back foot for the majority of the game but Frank de Boer's side lacked the quality to score that elusive goal in the final third.
90' + 5'
Yellow Card Sulley Muntari
90' + 5'
WHAT A CHANCE FOR AJAX AT THE DEATH! The Milan defence have defended fantastically all night long but their hearts are nearly broken at the death as Klaasen capitalises upon a bouncing ball in the box before sending a bicycle kick inches past the post. He cannot believe it. With that Howard Webb blows the final whistle.
90' + 5'
This game is threatening to boil over now and Howard Webb has to speak to a number of players to keep a lid on the action. Ajax continue to pump the ball into the Milan box but the Rossoneri defence stands firm.
90' + 3'
The Ajax players bombard the Milan box with a series of crosses but the clock continues to tick down as Blind's shot is comfortably saved by Abbiati. The home fans cheer loudly as the goalkeeper holds onto the ball.
90' + 1'
There will be five minutes of stoppage time and that is bound to encourage Ajax. They scored against Milan in the 90th-minute in Amsterdam, can they do so again here?
Yellow Card Mattia De Sciglio
The Ajax players are starting to lose their cool here and Blind concedes a needless foul on Poli to gift Milan possession near the corner flag. I can't imagine the ball will go far here.
Milan are hoping to see out the win here with both Poli and Balotelli trying to keep the ball in the corner. There are three minutes of normal time remaining.
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR AJAX! That goal continues to elude Ajax and Klaasen spurns another good opportunity when he fails to connect properly with Sigthorsson's flick-on. De Boer is barking orders furiously from the touchline.
Yellow Card Nigel De Jong
You can sense the desperation creeping into Ajax's play now and they appear to be lacking ideas as Dentswil's ambitious long ball fails to pick out a teammate in the box. De Jong picks up a booking for Milan.
Mike van der Hoorn
Both sides decide to make a substitution for the final ten minutes. Philippe Mexes replaces Kaka for Milan whilst Mike Van der Hoorn comes on for Ajax, in place of Thulani Serero. Can Milan see out the win?
Milan look to take advantage of a rare attack but Constant can only flash an effort high over Cillessen's crossbar after the ball fell to him on the edge of the box. Mexes is preparing to come on for the Rossoneri.
The opportunites keep coming for Ajax and Poli does brilliantly to clear Van Rhijn's cross to the edge of the box, but Schone blasts an effort wastefully over the bar. Can De Boer's side find the goal they need to take them into the knockout stages?
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR AJAX! The visitors are turning up the heat now and Fisher goes close on two occasions. First, he sees his goalbound effort blocked brilliantly by Bonera before he skews a left footed effort inches past the post.
GREAT CHANCE FOR AJAX! Constant concedes a foul out on the right and Schone whips a fantastic cross into the box but there is nobody there to meet it, allowing Abbiati to gratefully claim it. The midfielder has every right to be furious with his teammates there, it was a terrific delivery and only needed a touch.
Ronald de Boer finally decides to make a substitution and top goalscorer Kolbeinn Sigthorsson comes on for Bojan. Can the Icelandic international make the difference?
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli has had to do a lot of defending today and he picks a booking after raking his studs down the back of Blind's achilles. That was a nasty one from the striker.
From the resulting corner, Schone whips in an inviting delivery but Hoesen gets underneath the ball and sends a header over the crossbar.
HUGE SAVE FROM ABBIATI! Ajax produce some brilliant passing across the edge of the box with Bojan feeding the ball to Klaasen on the overlap. The 20-year-old tries to find the far corner with his shot across Abbiati but the Milan goalkeeper makes a crucial stop with his legs. That was a wonderful opportunity for the visitors.
Balotelli concedes a free kick out on the left but Schone's delivery is again poor and De Jong comfortably hooks the ball clear. The Ajax substitutes are going through a fast-paced warm-up on the touchline.
Yellow Card Daley Blind
Daley Blind picks up Ajax's first booking of the game after a clumsy challenge on Balotelli. De Boer will be hoping his side can keep their discipline as they search for that elusive goal which would take them into the group stages.
CHANCE FOR AJAX! The Milan fans have their hearts in their mouths as the ball bounces kindly for the unmarked Serero on the edge of the box. However, the South African cannot get the ball under control and Constant nips in to make a crucial interception.
An hour gone at the Giuseppe Meazza and we are still goalless. In the other Group H game, Barcelona lead Celtic 5-0.
Milan produce a rare gallop into the Ajax half but they cannot fashion a chance on Cillessen's goal as Balotelli's ambitious long pass is just too far ahead of Muntari. Allegri would bite your arm off for a 0-0 draw at this rate.
Abbiati has looked shaky from crosses in this second period and he misjudges the flight of the ball again but Ajax cannot take advantage as Klaasen's shot from Serero's lay-off is straight at the Milan goalkeeper.
In fact, Ajax do have top goalscorer Kolbeinn Sigthorsson on the bench. He has recently recovered from an ankle injury sustained on international duty with Iceland.
Ajax continue to crank up the pressure but Bojan cannot pick out a teammate with his deep cross from the right and another promising attack breaks down. De Boer must be contemplating some attacking substitutions soon.
CHANCE FOR FISCHER! Bojan has made a more lively start to the second half and he plays a neat one-two with Fischer who blazes high over the bar under pressure. Moments later, Abbiati flaps from a cross from the right and has De Sciglio to thank after he prevents Serero nodding in at the back post.
Milan are nearly gifted an opportunity when Moisander fails to deal with a long ball forward. However, fortunately for the Ajax captain, Denswil is alert to prevent Kaka from nipping in.
Ajax continue in the same fashion that they finished the first half, dominating possession and forcing Milan back into the final third. However, once again they struggle to produce a good delivery from wide areas and Zapata comfortably heads Blind's cross to safety.
Howard Webb blows his whistle to signal the start of the second half and there has been a substitution for Ajax, with the attacking-minded Danny Hoesen replacing Christian Poulsen. I wonder if the Danish veteran is feeling the effects of that Montolivo challenge.
HT: Milan 0-0 Ajax. Riccardo Montolivo's red card is the talking point at the break as he was dismissed on 22 minutes after a horror challenge on Christian Poulsen. The visitors had looked the most dangerous up until that point but they have struggled to take advantage of the extra man and have rarely tested Christian Abbiati. As things stand, Milan will be progressing to the knockout stages. Big team-talk ahead for both coaches.
45' + 1'
Muntari concedes a needless foul on Klaasen in a dangerous position outside the box but Schone cannot test Abbiati as his disappointing effort curls high over the crossbar. The home crowd boo Howard Webb as he blows the half-time whistle.
Ajax actually looked more threatening when Milan had eleven men and the hosts look to run down the clock with a sustained spell of possession before the break. I expect Ronald de Boer will have some strong words at half-time.
De Sciglio has looked solid on his comeback from a knee problem and he gives the crowd a much-needed lift when he executes a well-timed sliding challenge on Denswil. The Milan crowd are really behind their team here.
That red card has proved so costly to Milan's attacking play as they are just looking to hoof the ball out of defence everytime they come under pressure. Balotelli is cutting a frustrated, isolated figure up front but he is working hard to track back and help the defence.
As things stand, with Barcelona beating Celtic 1-0, they will advance as Group H winners with Milan taking the second qualification spot ahead of Ajax.
The statistics show that Ajax have enjoyed 64% of the possession so far. The Dutch champions are getting into some good positions down either flank but they need to improve their crossing.
Van Rhijn is being invited forward down the right and he whips a dangerous cross into the box, only for Zapata to head clear. Despite their pressure, Ajax have failed to seriously test Abbiati since going down to ten men.
Bojan has been disappointing up front for Ajax so far and he gets himself into a promising position on the right but dallies in possession and is easily muscled off the ball by Muntari. How he would love a goal against his former club.
Milan just cannot hold onto the ball in the final third and bar that early Balotelli free kick, I don't think Cillessen has touched the ball. You can sense the nervousness amongst the Milan crowd.
It's all Ajax at the moment and they continue to pass the ball around patiently, avoiding the temptation to try and find that killer pass. De Boer will be hoping his side can take advantage of the extra man before the half-time whistle.
CHANCE FOR AJAX! Schone has made a bright start to the game and he unleashes a swerving shot towards goal which deflects off of Fischer before forcing Abbiati to change direction and make a fine save. It would not have counted however as Fischer was in an offside position.
The Milan crowd are jeering every time Poulsen touches the ball but to be honest, he is lucky not to have suffered a nasty injury from that Montolivo challenge. The pressure is really on Milan now, they were struggling enough with 11 men.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Allegri decides to make a substitution in order to add stability to the midfielder and El Shaarawy is the man sacrificed for Andrea Poli. His first start in three months lasts only 24 minutes.
Red Card Riccardo Montolivo
MONTOLIVO SENT OFF! The Milan captain has let his side down here after a late horror challenge on Poulsen and he trudges down the tunnel after giving Kaka the armband. Max Allegri is furious but it was a nasty challenge from the midfielder and he can have no complaints.
GREAT SAVE FROM ABBIATI! Klaasen has been in brilliant goalscoring form recently and the 20-year-old forces the Milan goalkeeper into a fine save when he meets Van Rhijn's cross with an accurate diving header. Ajax are cranking up the pressure.
Daley Blind, whose father wore the armband when Ajax won the Champions League in 1995, gets clear excellently down the left but there is no white and red shirt gambling at the back post to meet his dangerous cross.
Here's a stat for you: Ajax have not won any of their last six away fixtures in the Champions League, since a 2-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb in October 2011.
Milan are not just willing to sit back however and Muntari finds space on the left corner of the box but there is no Rossoneri shirt to meet his dangerous cross-cum-shot.
Ajax have started the brightest here and Bojan, who scored three goals in 19 Serie A appearances for Milan, tries his luck from outside the box but watches his shot slice high and wide of the target.
Incidentally, the first meeting between these sides came in the 1968/69 European Champions Clubs' Cup final, with Milan winning 4-1.
Ajax have settled well here and Poulsen again proves a nuisance from a set piece when he flicks a header over the crossbar. Can the Dutch champions find that early goal to heap the pressure on Milan?
POULSEN HITS THE POST! Ajax come desperately close to taking the lead when Schone's corner from the right is met by the head of Poulsen. It evades everyone and looks to be heading into the top corner, only to strike the inside of the post. Let-off for Milan!
ZAPATA TO THE RESCUE! Ajax threaten for the first time in the game and it almost results in a goal as Fischer finds space inside the box but his goalbound effort is blocked excellently by a brave challenge from Zapata. Brilliant defending from the Colombian.
It's been a slow start in Milan but Balotelli nearly opens the scoring when his fierce free kick is well held by Cillessen.
Howard Webb blows his whistle and Ajax get the game underway. Can they find the win to take them into the knockout stages? The Dutch champions are unbeaten in their last three matches in Italy.
Sulley Muntari also gives his own personal tribute by holding up a Milan shirt with Mandela's name on. The famous Champions League anthem echoes around the Giuseppe Meazza. Howard Webb is tonight's referee.
The players emerge onto the field with captains Niklas Moisander and Riccardo Montolivo leading out the sides. There is a sign on the field reading "Madiba, The World Will Never Forget" to commemorate the passing of former South Africa president Nelson Mandela last week.
Ajax make four changes to the side which thumped NAC Breda 4-0 at the weekend. Stefano Denswil replaces Joel Veltman in the heart of defence, with Christian Poulsen and former Milan striker Bojan Krkic coming in for Ruben Ligeon and Danny Hoesen. 20-year-old midfielder Davy Klaasen starts once again, having scored five goals in his last three Eredivisie outings.
Milan make six changes to the side which drew 2-2 with Livorno on Saturday. Christian Abbiati replaces Gabriel between the sticks whilst Mattia De Sciglio, Daniele Bonera and Kevin Constant replace Andrea Poli, Philippe Mexes and Urby Emmanuelson in the defence. Sulley Muntari takes Antonio Nocerino's place in midfield whilst Stephan El Shaarawy makes his first start in three months, replacing the sidelined Walter Birsa.
AJAX (4-3-3): Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Moisander, Denswil, Blind; Klaassen, Poulsen, Serero; Schone, Bojan, Fischer.
MILAN (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Zapata, Bonera, Constant; Muntari, Montolivo, De Jong; Kaka; Balotelli, El Shaarawy.
Without further ado, here are tonight's lineups...
When these two sides met back on October 1 in matchday two, Ajax thought they had claimed all three points through Stefano Denswil's 90th-minute header. However, the Rossoneri claimed a vital point through Mario Balotelli's 94th-minute penalty and it could well prove to be the goal which puts Milan into the knockout stages if the sides draw this evening.
As for Milan, they take a welcome break from Serie A action where they sit in ninth place and 22 points off leaders Juventus. Massimiliano Allegri's side are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions but they have only won one of their previous seven league matches. Defeat to Ajax tonight could well seal Allegri's fate.
Ajax have surged up the Eredivisie table into second place after a fourth consecutive win and clean sheet at the weekend. Frank de Boer's side have also won their last two Champions League matches, beating Celtic 1-0 and Group H leaders Barcelona 2-1. Can they continue their good form this evening? Bringing you all the action from the Giuseppe Meazza, my name is Max Bentley.
With Juventus crashing out against Galatasaray earlier today and Napoli facing a near-impossible task against Arsenal, the hopes of bringing the Champions League trophy back to Italy could well lie in the hands of Milan. Massimiliano Allegri's side need just one point to advance to the knockout stages but they face an in-form Ajax team looking to steal all three points and progress themselves. It's bound to be a cracker!
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