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UEFA Champions League
22 October 2013
• Celtic Park, Glasgow
Referee: I. Bebek
• Attendance: 58719
J. Forrest 45'
B. Kayal 54'
L. Schöne 90'+
I've been Simon Harrison, I've enjoyed the drama of continental competition tonight, and I hope to see you all again next time!
That's all we have time for tonight, but we hope that you enjoyed Celtic's narrow 2-1 win over Ajax, which gives Neil Lennon's side a fighting chance of making second place in Group H of the Champions League.
A late consolation goal from substitute Schone wasn't quite enough for the visitors, who will return to the Netherlands with their tails between their legs. It was touted in the Dutch media last week that the Eredivisie champions simply couldn't lose to Celtic!
After a good first 40 minutes for Ajax, James Forrest helped himself to the breakthrough goal, courtesy of a penalty given away by Denswil. Kayal grabbed the second, as Denswil was once again involved, this time deflected the strike beyond Cillessen.
FULL TIME! Celtic have hung on for a very important three points! They come out as 2-1 victors over Dutch champions Ajax, and Frank de Boer doesn't look happy whatsoever!
90' + 4'
90' + 4'
GOOOAL! SCHONE! It's now 2-1! Too little too late for Ajax surely? The Danish substitute converts!
90' + 3'
SA! The substitute fails to get the contact that he needs! Mulgrew slices a clearance to the back post, allowing for Sa to try to control the loose ball, but the youngster lets it run away from him! Unlucky!
90' + 2'
Forrest beats Serero wonderfully, sidestepping Serero with ease, before the goalscorer spots Samaras on the far side. His intended pass is angled for the back post, but Cillessen races off his line and claims.
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Four minutes of stoppage time have been awarded. Ajax need a miracle to manage to get any spoils out of this game. Sigthorsson looks to cut the ball square from the byline, but Ambrose stands tall and puts it behind for a corner yet again.
SCHONE! The substitute tries an effort from range, it swerves in the air, but Forster is able to beat the ball behind for a corner. Wasn't the most testing strike, but Forster had to be sure.
With Celtic losing a man, Lennon has reshuffled his options, leaving one man up front and re-jigging his midfield to protect the back four in a more compact manner. He's not willing to leave anything to chance tonight, and he won't let his players switch off.
Red CardNir Biton
RED CARD! A straight red card for Biton, the substitute! There didn't seem to be enough wrong with that to merit a dismissal! It was a poor challenge, but there wasn't much contact!
Excellent play from Pukki, who has done well to hold onto the ball and keep counter-attacks moving, despite often being rather isolated. Things seem to be going well for Celtic, all they need to do is hold their shape.
BLIND! A smart backheel from De Jong provides the left-back with a chance to strike from 20 yards, and he obliges. Forster gets down to his right well to make what was really a routine stop.
As the clock ticks down, frustrations keep on rising for the away side. The introduction of Schone hasn't quite had the desired effect, and Ajax are continuing with their possession which yields few chances.
STOKES! Cillessen comes out trying to claim, and the referee has deemed that the Ajax keeper managed to get a touch on that before it went out for yet another set piece. This time, Cillessen does get the decision he wants, as the referee gives a free-kick for a push on the Dutchman.
Good interception from Veltman! Forrest overlaps on the right wing, before looking to find Stokes at the front post, after reading the movement of his teammate. Veltman puts it behind for yet another corner.
Ten minutes left to play, and it seems very unlikely that Celtic won't be leaving with maximum points tonight. Ajax just don't look as though they have two goals in them tonight. If Serero hadn't spurned two good chances, the complexion of this game would be entirely different.
Ricardo van Rhijn
De Boer is taking a gamble now, as he replaces one of his defenders with a midfield option, and presumably the Amsterdam outfit will be pushing for that all important first goal now. Mulgrew sweeps up nicely behind Izaguirre, as a long ball attempted to find Serero in behind.
SERERO! Another chance goes begging for the South African, as firstly his touch lets him down, before his second opportunity is similarly wasted! Serero has his head in his hands, and rightly so, all he needed to do was keep that down and Ajax had a way back into this match.
DE JONG! The captain strikes the wall with a free-kick in a dangerous areas, as Samaras stands tall and gets bludgeoned in the face, forcing the referee to halt play. He'll continue, however, he's merely had his feathers ruffled.
15 minutes left on the clock for Celtic to grab a much-needed three points, which would presumably see them leapfrog at least two teams in the Group H standings. Ajax can't be ruled out yet though, they've dominated for long periods and have the quality to find a goal.
Samaras does well to beat Van Rhijn as he progresses into the penalty area, but the young full-back does just about enough to get in front of his adversary to win a free-kick. Celtic's captain looks frustrated, Van Rhijn was a lucky boy there!
Lesley de Sa
Poor delivery from Van Rhijn! The right-back looks for Sigthorsson yet again at the back post, but it floats out of play with his teammate helpless. Offensively, things aren't clicking for Ajax.
Ambrose has been absolutely everywhere in the past five minutes, winning headers all over the field. He seems rather motivated for the remaining minutes, as does Frank de Boer, who continues to fume in Ajax's technical area.
AMBROSE! Mulgrew whips in a lovely delivery to the back post, with the Nigerian rising well! Denswil atones for his penalty error with a great interception, as the youngster nods the cross away from Ambrose's forehead.
Pukki finds Stokes with his back to goal, before the former Sunderland forward invites Forrest forward with a pass into space on the right. The cross is decent, but Boilesen puts it behind for a corner. Finally some pressure for the hosts.
Good defending from Van Dijk! The young Dutchman manages to shut out Andersen as the Dane looks to cut inside, after lazy defending from Ambrose allowed for the Ajax man to get to the byline. Ajax win a corner, but it fails to beat the first man.
KAYAL! The goalscorer turns Serero, before driving towards the box, but his shot is too close to Cillessen! The Dutch keeper gets down well to his right to claim.
DE JONG! The Ajax captain is able to dance around two players before aiming a left-footed effort towards Forster's bottom left corner, but the Englishman is confident enough to withdraw his hand and allow the ball to skid behind for a goal kick.
Celtic have a little less than half an hour to survive here, if they want to take a very important three points against their group rivals. Ajax haven't looked too dangerous in this second half, so it's possible that De Boer will be shuffling his pack in the not too distant future.
Sigthorsson! Fischer does well to wriggle into some space, before finding Sigthorsson! The ball bounces up kindly, allowing for the Iceland international to catch it on the half volley, but Ambrose blocks.
Ajax win a corner, but it's dealt with well by Celtic, as the hosts win the first and second ball. Serero picks up the ball from deep, floats a cross towards the back post, but Forster claims, much to the adulation of the crowd.
Ambrose clears yet again, the Nigeria international is really proving his worth when Celtic are under pressure. Pukki is found with an optimistic long ball, but Cillessen is quick off his line to close the angle and smother it.
KAYAL! The Israeli midfielder is high in confidence and tries his luck from around 30 yards, but Cillessen is equal to it this time! One more goal for the home side and you sense this is over as a contest.
Ambrose dispossesses Fischer exceptionally well, the young Danish left winger hasn't had much of an impact on the second half yet. Sigthorsson and De Jong look capable of carving out some chances, but Ajax are lacking creativity and guile otherwise.
Celtic Park is absolutely rocking, it has been since Kayal's deflected strike nestled in the bottom corner. Ajax have responded though, no doubt due to the glares of De Boer, who isn't the happiest man in Glasgow at this moment in time.
SIGTHORSSON! The Icelandic striker tries his luck from the edge of the box, as he looked to curl the ball inside the far post, but fires wide! Fortunately for him, the linesman has his flag up for offside.
A touch of fortune surrounding that goal, but Celtic get their just rewards for an excellent start to the second half! Serero goes through on goal, forcing Forster to close the angle, but the South African tries to dive and con the referee into giving a penalty! The official waves it away.
GOOOOAL! KAYAL CONVERTS! 2-0 TO CELTIC! Samaras sees a shot blocked, the rebound falls to the Israel international, who strikes at goal! The ball deflects off Denswil and finds the bottom corner!
SERERO! The South African plays a lovely one-two with Sigthorsson, but can't convert, despite seemingly having all the time in the world! Serero tries to slip it under Forster rather than around him, and the Celtic goalkeeper makes an important save!
Celtic have started the second half in much better fashion, enjoying much more of the ball and allowing for Forrest to push on a lot more. If Forrest can be isolated against Blind, Celtic should have some success down the right flank.
STOKES! The Celtic forward looks to direct a header towards goal from an awkward angle, but Cillessen is confident enough to let the ball bounce wide of his post. Not a bad effort from the penalty winner.
Good defending from Van Dijk, he uses his physical presence to see the ball out of play with Andersen pressuring. A slow start to the second half, minus Forrest's exciting gallivant down the right, moments ago.
FORREST! Excellent play from the winger, as he outpaced Blind before squaring an enticing delivery! It deflects through a ruck of players, and doesn't quite fall for Pukki!
Cillessen is forced to clear under pressure once again, and this is certainly a recurring theme in this match. Ajax not afraid to work the ball all the way back to their goalkeeper, perhaps to force Celtic to waste their energy chasing it down.
We are back underway for the second half, and both teams still have it all to do in this game! Milan and Barcelona are currently drawing 1-1 in the other Group H match this evening, making a win even more valuable at the moment!
We're very close to the restart now, and I'm sure that both dressing rooms will be getting the same team talk. Win at all costs, a point isn't quite what the doctor ordered for either side, and a loss would be catastrophic.
There's still plenty of work to do for Neil Lennon's side, as they haven't really been on top in this game, but at least they have something to hold onto. Ajax will be disappointed, but more of the same performance should yield a goal at some point.
Celtic haven't enjoyed too much of the ball, but look threatening when playing directly, looking for quick transitions via long balls and incisive dribbling runs. Forrest and Samaras have looked lively on the flanks, but Izaguirre seems to be a weak link for the hosts.
The half time score is perhaps harsh on Ajax, who dominated for large periods of the first 45 minutes, but Frank de Boer's side failed to create too many chances. Poulsen struck the post and Sigthorsson was thwarted by Forster, but the Dutch need to look more dangerous.
The half-time whistle blows! The atmosphere inside Celtic Park is absolutely deafening, the players could barely hear the referee's whistle! Celtic lead 1-0 over Ajax at the break.
45' + 1'
That penalty took an age to be taken, but Celtic won't mind now! Neil Lennon's celebration showed how much it means to the Scottish champions, and I'm sure he'll be reminding them of the magnitude of this game at the half time break too.
Penalty GoalJames Forrest
GOOOOAL! FORREST! CELTIC LEAD 1-0! He puts the ball just inside the post, beating Cillessen all ends up! The home side have a vital advantage!
Yellow CardJoël Veltman
Yellow CardVirgil van Dijk
Yellow CardC. Poulsen
The referee is reaching for his pocket yet again, before discussing something with his assistant behind the goal, and this is just increasing the pressure on James Forrest! The seconds tick by..
PENALTY FOR CELTIC! Denswil dives in, allowing for Stokes to sidestep his man and pick up a penalty with only a couple of minutes left in the first half!
Good save from Cillessen! The Dutchman is forced to palm over a close-range header from right underneath his crossbar! Another corner is the result, but the Ajax goalkeeper punches it away!
Good interception from Veltman! The deputising centre-half flicks a lofted through ball out for a corner, with Forrest looking to ghost in behind the 21-year-old! That was a vital touch!
Celtics fans are looking to give their side a lift, with their chants echoing around Celtic Park. They need to lift their performance, and their faithful following can sense it. Five minutes left of the first half, and a goal would be absolutely invaluable.
Pukki! Kayal! The two Celtic players exchange possession on the edge of the penalty area, with both seemingly willing their teammate to have an effort at goal! Van Dijk eventually obliges, but the defender fires harmlessly wide.
Izaguirre loses out to Andersen yet again, and the Honduran looks a little uneasy out there tonight. His adversary is clearly comfortable and silky while in possession, and Izaguirre has gifted the ball away on a few occasions now. A key battle.
SAMARAS! Excellent cross from tonight's captain, but Cillessen is quick off his line to claim it! Stokes catches the Ajax goalkeeper in the head with his knee, but the Netherlands international is quick to return to his feet, despite looking a little bit uncomfortable.
Ajax aren't looking too weak, considering that their two centre-backs are rather inexperienced at this level of football. Cillessen is yet to be tested, and Neil Lennon might have a few sour words to say at half time at this rate.
Chance for Celtic, as Mulgrew is allowed to deliver an inswinging free-kick from deep on the right. The ball is half cleared, but Stokes' effort at goal is heroically blocked! Ajax break, but Kayal makes an excellent last ditch tackle to deny Sigthorsson!
This game is coming to life now! Ajax are the dominant force, with Celtic unable to launch the counter attacks that threatened in the very early stages. Andersen is growing in prominence, and Sigthorsson is seeing more possession in dangerous areas.
Sigthorsson! It's offside anyway! The Ajax captain manages to wriggle through the Celtic rearguard, before exchanging a pass with Sigthorsson, who forces a save out of Forster! Very tight!
POULSEN! The former Liverpool man strikes the foot of the post! A deep free-kick is launched in, half-cleared by Mulgrew, but Poulsen pounces on the rebound! The Danish midfielder gets his instep to the ball, but is thwarted by the woodwork!
Ajax are looking to get into their stride now, with Fischer and Andersen looking rather dangerous for the visitors. Keen to dribble and drive when in possession, the young Danes look like the key to unlock Celtic at the moment.
SIGTHORSSON! The Ajax hitman gets his first chance of the game, shifting the ball out of his feet from 20 yards, but a good block from Van Dijk denies the Iceland international!
VAN RHIJN! Izaguirre gives the ball away needlessly, allowing for Van Rhijn to deliver a very dangerous ball to the back post! Sigthorsson was lying in wait, but Lustig does excellently to put the ball behind for a corner. Nothing results from it.
Patient build up play from Ajax yet again, the Dutch champions are in no rush to force the issue here tonight, and thus chances just aren't forthcoming. Pukki and Sigthorsson have seen very little of the ball thus far.
Offside! Mulgrew clears down the left, and the ball is flicked on by Samaras. Pukki is onside, but the linesman has his flag raised. The Finnish striker was in plenty of space then too, unlucky for Celtic.
Poulsen is sitting exceptionally deep for Ajax, almost as a third defender, which allows for the adventurous likes of Blind and Van Rhijn to push on. This extra width might pose Celtic a few more problems.
Just over 20 minutes have passed in this Champions League Group H match, and we are yet to see our first clear cut chance in this game. The closest either side have managed to get so far, was Stokes' attempted cross for Pukki.
Good clearance by Van Dijk! Ajax again play some elegant triangles around the Celtic resistance on the edge of the box, but once again the delivery isn't quite good enough to reach Sigthorsson in the centre.
FISCHER! The youngster cuts inside onto his right foot, and everything seems to open up for the Dane. He tries his luck from range, but gets it all wrong, ballooning the ball over the crossbar, and De Boer looks furious.
Pukki! The Finnish striker finds a pocket of space on the edge of the penalty area, but Denswil is alive to the danger and clears upfield. It's not quite happened for Pukki thus far, but inevitably a chance will arrive.
Despite the hosts' high pressing, Ajax are not fazed at all, holding onto possession in ridiculously deep areas! Celtic are creating the better chances at the moment, with some reasonable deliveries from wide areas, but Denswil and Veltman remain untroubled.
DE JONG! Great interplay from Ajax releases the Ajax captain on the right hand side, and De Jong tries to test Forster with a ferocious drive from a tight angle! The Englishman holds the effort well, and it's a good job he did, as Sigthorsson was lurking.
Great ball from Samaras! The Greek launches a pass forward, and Stokes looks to cut inside Denswil, but the youngster stands tall and clears. Celtic attack again, with Stokes delivering a great ball from the right flank, but Pukki can't quite stretch to get goalscoring contact on it!
An evenly balanced start to this game, and it certainly has the makings of a battling and well-fought affair. Both goalkeepers have had some early touches of the ball, with Ajax looking that little more assured.
Forrest has an opportunity to stretch his legs, driving at Blind, before switching the ball to the overlapping Ambrose. The cross is reasonable, with Pukki again the target, but Van Rhijn heads away.
Sigthorsson tries to whip in a ball from the right hand side, but Van Dijk makes a block. The rebound is picked up by Serero, fed to Blind, but the left-back's cross is claimed by Forster at the second attempt.
Composed stuff from Ajax once again, as they work the ball from left to right with consummate ease. Serero and De Jong are already looking lively for the away side. Neither goalkeeper has been troubled yet, chances have been few and far between in the opening stages.
A heavy touch from Samaras yet again runs the Celtic captain into trouble, and he'll need to find his feet rather soon, otherwise plenty of the hosts' attacks will be going nowhere. Ajax continue to be patient, with Cillessen seeing plenty of the ball.
Forrest is penalised after sliding in late on Cillessen, as the Ajax goalkeeper cleared a loose ball. The Dutch shot stopper enjoyed himself on international duty last week, playing well in Netherlands' win over Turkey.
Mulgrew whips in the corner, but it is easily cleared, before Sigthorsson's attempted counter-attack is stopped in its tracks by Stokes. The crowd sound their appreciation, they expect commitment at the very least.
Samaras drives through the heart of Ajax, before spreading the ball to the left hand side to find Izaguirre in space. The Honduran whips in a delivery, in search of Pukki, but it is deflected behind for a corner.
Celtic are showing from the very start that they are reluctant to surrender too much territory to Ajax, but are prepared to let the Dutch side maintain possession in their own half. A cagey start, given that both outfits want a win!
The referee awards a free-kick after Samaras clatters through Serero following a poor first touch, and somehow the Greek forward has managed to avoid a talking to. Ajax already showing that they are comfortable to pass the ball around under pressure.
We are underway! The crowd roar the start of the game, and this should be a very exciting game. Both sides undoubtedly feel that they have to win tonight!
The atmosphere is rather intimidating, but it won't be anything that this Ajax side aren't used to! For anyone wondering, Samaras has taken the captaincy due to Scott Brown's absence tonight. The Greek international certainly deserves it following his occasional heroics in a Celtic shirt.
The players stream out onto the field, and the reception give by the home fans is rather deafening. Celtic are, of course, in their green and white hoops, with Ajax in a rather striking combination of colours - black and pink. The two sides pass around a pendant displaying an anti-racism slogan, and we're close to kick-off now!
No Scott Brown is obviously a sore point for Celtic, but the continued presence of Fraser Forster between the sticks offers some reassurance that the Scottish side can stay in the game even if they are besieged for long periods. The English shot stopper has been rather impressive in the Champions League so far during the current campaign.
Siem de Jong should be key for the Dutch champions tonight, with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson offering an interesting blend of attributes in attack. Viktor Fischer and Lucas Andersen are also dangerous Danes to keep an eye on, but Celtic certainly have more than a fighting chance of dealing a huge blow to Ajax's qualifying hopes this evening.
This is an Ajax side that lost its two star players in the summer, we must remember. Christian Eriksen's sale to Tottenham and Toby Alderweireld's late switch to Atletico Madrid ripped out the creative spine of Frank de Boer's side, but youth graduates and new signings have just about done enough to plug the rather large void.
Fifteen minutes until kick-off, in what is probably the most important night for these two respective sides in Group H. To beat Barcelona is a tough ask, but if either side wants to sneak into the second qualifying position, three points will be vital against arguably weaker opposition.
Both teams can take heart from their recent form either domestically or in this competition, as Celtic have only lost three out of their last ten matches in Glasgow in the Champions League, while Ajax are entering this fixture after four games unbeaten in the Eredivisie.
Our officials for the evening are a Croatian quartet, with Ivan Bebek acting as referee tonight. His linesmen are Tomislav Petrovic and Miro Grgic, with Dalibor Conjar slotting in as fourth official.
Ajax substitutes: Vermeer, Van der Hoorn, Boilesen, Klaassen, Schone, Hoesen, De Sa.
Ajax starting line-up: Cillessen; Blind, Veltman, Denswil, Van Rhijn; Poulsen, De Jong, Serero, Andersen, Fischer; Sigthorsson.
Celtic substitutes: Zaluska, Ledley, Biton, Balde, Rogic, Atajic, Fisher.
Celtic starting line-up: Forster; Izaguirre, Ambrose, Van Dijk, Lustig; Mulgrew, Kayal, Forrest, Samaras; Stokes, Pukki.
TEAM NEWS: Celtic are with Kris Commons and captain Scott Brown, while Ajax have lost Niklas Moisander to injury earlier today, leaving the inexperienced Joel Veltman to deputise for the Finnish defender.
I'm Simon Harrison and I will be keeping you up to date with all occurrences from Celtic Park. There has already been some bad news for the away side this evening, with a veteran defender pulling out due to injury - Celtic might smell blood.
Celtic merely sit a point below their adversaries for the evening, courtesy of the Dutch side drawing against Milan in their other group encounter, making this fixture rather important for both side. While either team may admit that their chances of progression aren't too positive, they can look to make themselves comfortable in third place with a win tonight.
Hello and welcome to Champions League action, as last season's Eredivisie champions Ajax make their way to Scottish champions Celtic, with Neil Lennon's men requiring three points at home to stay in contention with the likes of Milan and Barcelona.
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