AC Milan have been in terrible form, were down a man and spent more than an hour on their heels. And yet they still got the result they needed.
Ajax couldn't convert their slew of chances into a goal to jump Milan and take second place in Group H. Instead, they played to a 0-0 draw and Milan just barely, maybe undeservedly, hung on to book a spot in the Champions League Round of 16.
The match was sloppy to begin with as both teams struggled to gain a foothold, but that all changed after 22 minutes. Riccardo Montolivo came in late on Christian Poulsen and stomped on the Ajax man's ankle, leaving the referee no choice but to show him red.
Down to 10 men, Milan stopped bothering to attack and went into a shell with the hope of eeking out the draw they needed to advance. The approach wasn't pretty and if Ajax has been a little sharper, it wouldn't have worked. The Dutch side hit several great crosses that just missed the target and multiple shots rolled just wide of the net, but almost doesn't count.
For all of Ajax's efforts, including a bicycle kick that missed the far post by mere inches in the waning minutes, they didn't have a goal in them. Maybe Christian Eriksen or Miralem Sulejmani would have gotten them the tally they needed and sent them through, but they are sold and Ajax are a team in transition.
In the end, Milan did enough to hold on and head through to the Round of 16. Max Allegri lives to see another day.
AC Milan: Abbiati, De Sciglio, Zapata, Constant, Bonera, Muntari, Montolivo, De Jong, Kaka (Mexes 81'), Balotelli, El Shaarawy (Poli 24').
Red cards: Montolivo 22'.
Ajax: Cillessen,Van Rhijn, Moisander, Blind, Denswil, Poulsen (Hoesen 45'), Klaassen, Serero (van der Hoorn 80'), Fischer, Krkic (Sigthorsson 72'), Schone.