Ajax defeated AC Milan 2-0 at the San Siro on Wednesday to ensure a place in the UEFA Europa League. Milan were already guaranteed of second place in Group G of the UEFA Champions League going into the match with Real Madrid assured of top spot.
Ajax and Auxerre were left to battle for third place and the Europa league qualification consolation prize. Goals from Demy De Zeuuw and Toby Alderweireld ensured the Dutch side - who were rocked by the resignation of coach Martin Jol on Monday - continue their continental adventure this season.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri passed off the defeat and refused to blame Brazilian star Ronaldinho, given a rare start. "It's was difficult tonight, the most important thing is the game against Bologna (on Sunday), we were already qualified," he said. "Ronaldinho played, he did some good things but the whole team was responsible for this performance."
Ajax made a bright start against a Milan team who rested the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and goalkeeper Christian Abbiati. Just two minutes in Luis Suarez forced Marco Amelia to tip the ball behind for a corner and the second choice stopper came to the rescue to deny the Uruguayan again on 11 minutes.
The Dutch side were clearly on top and Suarez slipped in Christian Eriksen but Daniele Bonera got across to make a sliding block. Eriksen was proving Ajax's primary outlet and twice he forced Amelia into saves.
Milan had only one chance of note in the first half but Ronaldinho's header from Robinho's cross lacked power or direction and Maarten Stekelenburg saved easily. Ajax also had two shouts for a penalty in the first 50 minutes but referee Claus Bo Larsen was spot on both times in booking Suarez and then Miralem Sulejmani for simulation.
Ajax had an early chance after the break but Amelia parried Suarez's close range effort while up the other end Thiago Silva was just off target with a header. But the visitors deservedly took the lead on 58 minutes after Siem De Jong's shot from the edge of the box was blocked but the rebound dropped to De Zeeuw to lash home. Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri clearly didn't want to lose and hauled off midfielder Massimo Ambrosini for Ibrahimovic.
But on 67 minutes it was two as Alderweireld picked up a pass from Suarez and sent a rocket from 25 yards into the top corner, giving Amelia no chance. Substitute Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a difference for the home side, bringing two fine reaction saves from Maarten Stekelenburg in the space of five minutes. Both goalkeepers continued to excel as the match drew to a close, while Ibrahimovic somehow lifted his shot over the crossbar from six yards in the final minute.