AMSTERDAM - Mario Balotelli converted a penalty in the fourth minute of injury time to earn AC Milan a 1-1 draw at Ajax in a frantic finish to their Champions League clash on Tuesday.
Ajax only went ahead in the 90th minute when Stefano Denswil headed home a corner, only a few minutes after it had a goal disallowed from Kolbeinn Sigthorsson for a preceding handball.
But in a penalty area melee as Milan pushed forward for a final attack, Mike van der Hoorn pulled down Balotelli — and the Italy international coolly slotted home the equalizer. He put his finger to his mouth to silence the relentless boos from the sellout crowd at the ArenA stadium.
Milan moved into second spot in Group H with four points and is two behind Barcelona, which had a 1-0 win over Glasgow Celtic. The draw gave Ajax its first point in the group.
In the controversial late penalty incident, Ajax immediately claimed it was Balotelli instead who had shoved the defender into the ground, despite though replays showing Van der Hoorn grabbing the Milan shirt.
"We should not have given this away," coach Frank de Boer said. "Balotelli went for a judo throw. It is ridiculous."
Balotelli, in the middle of a three-match domestic league ban, appeared lethargic for most of the match but still was instrumental for Milan. He almost gave the visitors the lead in the 62nd but his curling long-range shot was tipped onto the bar by Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
In a dour game that only came alive in the last five minutes, Ajax failed to turn early dominance into decisive changes and AC Milan was evidently happy to remain unbeaten in the group.
Milan had beaten Celtic 2-0 in its opening game while Ajax was totally dominated by Barcelona in a 4-0 drubbing at Camp Nou.
Both clubs are struggling in their domestic leagues, and the quality of play on Tuesday showed why. Milan is currently in 9th place in Italy, while Ajax is 4th in the Dutch competition.
Milan came to Amsterdam without Italy forward Stephan El Shaarawy, who is out for a month with a microfracture in his foot. Striker Bojan Krkic was missing from the Ajax lineup due to a hamstring injury.
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