Thulani Serero’s Ajax Amsterdam bowed out of the UEFA Champions League group stage after drawing 0-0 to a ten-man Milan side at the San Siro on Wednesday evening.
Captain Riccardo Montolivo was sent off after just 22 minutes of play but a strong defensive display by the Massimiliano Allegri’s men meant they got the job done to finish second in Group H.
The permutations coming into the encounter were simple. Milan required a minimum of a draw in order to progress into the knockout stages of the competition, while Ajax had to make sure they returned back to Holland with a win in order to confirm second.
The fixture got off to an exciting start with two excellent chances occurring on either end of the field within the opening five minutes.
Mario Balotelli forced Jasper Cillessen into making a save off his shot, before Christian Poulsen was denied by the inside of the post from his headed strike.
Ajax should have been two goals up within the opening quarter an hour. Davy Claasen forced Christian Abbiati into pulling off a great full-stretched save from his shot which was pushed around the post for a corner kick.
Milan has only lost two of their last 24 home matches but their chances of continuing with that impressive record took a knock after Riccardo Montolivo was sent off.
The skipper was shown an immediate red card for an ankle breaking challenge on Poulsen after just 22 minutes. As a result, Stephan El Shaarawy was sacrificed and Andrea Poli brought on.
Viktor Fischer should have done better at the restart when he just had to direct his snapshot on target from close range but, instead, he fired it over the face of goal.
Abbiati then denied the Dutch team of two goal scoring opportunities but denying Claasen at the near post before latching onto Lasse Schone’s free-kick.
As the Ajax continued to pile the pressure, Fischer’s strike which glanced past the far post left the home supporters holding their breath as the Rossoneri held onto a goalless draw.