AC Milan progressed to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 thanks to a 0-0 draw with Ajax at the San Siro, which was enough to finish second in Group H behind Barcelona. The Italian giant was forced to defend for nearly 70 minutes after being reduced to ten men in the 22nd minute when Riccardo Montolivo was shown a straight red card for stomping on Christian Poulsen’s ankle.
After the game, coach Massimiliano Allegri admits he “lost weight” watching his team defend the 0-0 result. “It was a long sigh of relief because this was an important achievement and it wasn’t easy to play against Ajax with 10 men,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “The lads were very organized and only ran risks on a few crosses into the box, while Christian Abbiati did well on his saves. Mario Balotelli took the team upon his shoulders, earned free kicks and held the ball up, so he was crucial.”
Regarding the sending off, the Rossoneri coach added: “Montolivo’s was a foul, but certainly not nasty, as he is not a nasty player. The referee made this decision on the suggestion of the assistant and it’s a shame we had to play for over an hour with 10 men. From the touchline I couldn’t see it. The replays show it was a hard foul, but not nasty.”
In the other Group H game, Barcelona cruised to a 6-1 against Celtic at the Camp Nou on the back of a Neymar hat trick.