Mario Balotelli and his usual nemesis, the referee, combined to salvage a point for Milan in the Champions League group stage with 1-1 draw against Ajax. Perhaps inspired by Pepe pulling Elche's Carlos Sanchez down on top of him to somehow win a penalty, Balotelli grabbed Ajax defender Mike van der Hoorn from behind and then fell in the fourth minute of injury time. The ref awarded him a penalty, gave Van der Hoorn a yellow card and, in his first attempt since missing a penalty for the first time in his career, Balotelli converted it and shushed the Amsterdam crowd.
"The fouls against me don't seem to count," Balotelli said just last week in his apology for verbally abusing a referee to earn a three-match ban in Serie A. Well, this wasn't a foul against him, but it definitely counted. And Ajax manager Frank De Boer, as you might imagine, was not pleased with the way things played out. From Football Italia:
“With Balotelli you know he can score from scratch and create theatre. That cost us two points,” slammed De Boer after the 1-1 draw.
“This point comes with a bitter taste. At the end of the day I can live with a point, but to concede with the penalty was disappointing. There are always moments of contact in the box. It’s about letting go at the right moment and Van Der Hoorn did that. It was ridiculous that penalty was awarded."
Though Balotelli was booked himself in the 60th minute, maybe the way this match ended will prove to him that the referees are only against him 98 percent of the time.