Again Ajax leave the San Siro stadium disappointed. Last season the side lost with one goal to both Internazionale and AC Milan and the first match of the UEFA Champions League 2003-2004 was no different: 1-0 to Milan.
AC Milan - Ajax is veteran experience of the team that won it all last season versus young enthousiasm of the side that wants it all as soon as possible. And again the eagerness of youth could not defeat the shrewdness of the sly opposition.
Sure, Ajax were better in possession in the first half. But which Italian football fan cares about that? The only thing that matters is that you win. And that is exactly what AC Milan did, through a second-half goal by who else but Philippo Inzaghi.
AC Milan had waited patiently for the one chance. It came in the 67th minute. Bogdan Lobont just manage to push away a Shevchenko effort, but Inzaghi pipped all Ajax defenders to the post and put the ball in for 1-0.
Almost Ajax - against ten men when Gatusso had been sent of for hitting Ibrahimovic in the face - laughed last, when first Zlatan Ibrahimovic and then Rafael van der Vaart had only goalkeeper Dida to beat. The 'keeper's reaction was phenomenal in added time. ,,I don't think I ever missed such a big chance'', said Van der Vaart. ,,But he saved it very well.''
,,Milan are still a very strong side'', conceded coach Ronald Koeman. ,,They build on a strong defence and then it's hard to create good chances. We did get them but we couldn't finish."
,,The flair was back in our team", Koeman thought. ,,We had some good chances, but you have to realise that you're playing AC Milan and not in the Dutch league. It's painful that we lost, but it also gives confidence for the matches to come.''
In the other match in group H, Club Brugge and Celta de Vigo drew 1-1 in Bruges.