Manchester City were all but eliminated from the Champions League despite producing a stirring fightback against Ajax to draw 2-2.
Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero struck as City fought back from 2-0 down but the Barclays Premier League champions were forced to settle for a draw and remain winless in Group D despite a frantic finish.
Siem de Jong, who scored in the Dutch side's defeat of City in Amsterdam a fortnight ago, found the net twice for the visitors inside the opening 17 minutes at the Etihad Stadium. The result left City with just two points from four games and needing two victories and other results to go their way to claim a place in the knockout stages.
City made a lively start, showing far more attacking intent in the opening minutes than they did in the early stages of their 3-1 loss in Holland. They went close when Gareth Barry slipped Pablo Zabaleta in on goal but the charging right-back fired narrowly over.
Matija Nastasic needlessly conceded a corner and the hosts' defending from the set-piece was equally unimpressive. Niklas Moisander flicked Christian Eriksen's delivery into the danger area and De Jong pounced to hook into the roof of the net from close range.
That left City chasing the game after just 10 minutes and it got worse as Ajax won another corner and doubled their lead seven minutes later. City's marking was again slack as this time De Jong popped up at the near post and met Eriksen's cross with a header of his own which flew past Joe Hart.
City needed to respond quickly and Carlos Tevez almost set up strike partner Aguero but Toby Alderweireld managed to hack clear. City managed to haul themselves back as Toure superbly controlled Alderweireld's attempted clearance on his chest six yards out and twisted to lash home a powerful volley.
City needed to raise the tempo further and sent on Mario Balotelli for the start of the second half. Tevez earned a free-kick just outside the area which Toure hit into the wall. The ball worked its way to Aguero and the striker poked home but his celebrations were ended by an offside flag.
Hart denied De Jong a hat-trick again with a fine one-handed save from a free-kick but City continued to press and were finally rewarded as a long ball found Balotelli who leapt to win the header and Aguero raced through to fire low past Vermeer from the edge of the area.
City thought they had snatched a winner when Aguero poked home two minutes from time but the flag had again been raised as the cross came in. Hart saved again from Eriksen in injury time and City wanted a penalty in the dying seconds for a pull on Balotelli but referee Peter Rasmussen blew the final whistle.