Cautious Milan snatch draw at Ajax

Posted by Sumeet Paul

VI Images via Getty ImagesMario Balotelli's penalty conversion silenced the Ajax faithful and earned Milan a big point.

In what is becoming a hallmark of this Milan side, Massimiliano Allegri witnessed another late show as Mario Balotelli's injury-time penalty snatched a 1-1 draw in Amsterdam on Tuesday night. On the face of it, a draw away from home in the Champions League is a decent result, but there was a great deal of luck in that late decision.

- Report: Ajax 1-1 Milan

While there was a combination of misfortune and disappointment from a Milan perspective, it would be a disservice to the hosts to not give them some credit as they were arguably the better team both with and without the ball.

Frank de Boer's side demonstrated an aspect of the game that the Rossoneri could take note from, and that is a modern identity in their play.

Composed and assured on the ball and ultimately ending the game with 70 percent of possession, the Dutch side were consistently harassing any Milan player on the ball to then quickly force a turnover before pushing forward as a unit.

Having revolutionised the game before, the only thing that is perhaps lacking in their side today is real quality individuals. Nevertheless, they will pose a threat moving forward in this group, and it remains to be seen what Milan can take from a double-header against Barcelona.

While there is a sense of another disappointing night in Europe, the result could have been entirely different had Balotelli -- returning after his domestic absence -- enjoyed better luck in front of goal.

Denied by both inspirational goalkeeping as well as the woodwork, the 23-year-old proved yet again that he can make the difference in this competition if the foundation is provided by his teammates.

However, in his postmatch interview, Allegri suggested that the defensive showing in the first half was a tactical ploy to deny Ajax space and chances in the first half, before playing with more adventure in the second period as their tempo dropped.

While that can be interpreted as either risky, smart or not in line with a club like Milan, it will be for supporters to decide for themselves. Personally, there is a preference for a more proactive attitude rather than a reactive one, and while Tuesday's approach may be acceptable against the likes of Barcelona, it surely isn't appropriate against supposedly inferior teams.

Nevertheless, it is another crucial point in what will continue to prove to be a difficult group, and the positive to take from the game is that an advantage has been maintained ahead of facing Barca.

Few will predict anything other than the Spaniards topping Group H, particularly now that they have started with consecutive victories, and it will now be a battle for second place for the Rossoneri.

Provided they can continue to pick up points on the road, it will be imperative that they make the most of their chances at home as there is still the daunting trip to Celtic to come. However, four points from two games is a satisfactory return, and now attention will switch to Sunday's meeting with Juventus.

What are your thoughts on the performance, and Allegri's postgame comments?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.