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UEFA Champions League
November 6, 2013
• Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam
Referee: D. Aytekin
• Attendance: 51908
L. Schöne 51'
Defeat for Celtic now means they must beat Milan in Glasgow next time out to have any chance of qualifying after the Italian side were also beaten by Barcelona. For Ajax, anything against the Catalan giants on matchday five could set up a winner-takes-all encounter against Milan in the final week. Only time will tell who will reach the knockout stages, but for now I've been Tom Maston, and thanks for joining me.
The full-time whistle blows and Ajax have held on to pick up their first win of their Champions League campaign. They move ahead of Celtic into third in Group H after Schone's strike early in the second half, and in truth they were deserved winners.
90' + 3'
Samaras is caught offside as Ledley heads into the box and the game is almost up for Celtic. The home fans are in bouyant mood as we enter the final seconds.
90' + 1'
Izaguirre's delivery is cleared. Celtic throwing everyone forward now.
Mike van der Hoorn
Van der Hoorn replaces Sigthorsson as Celtic win a corner. Four minutes of stoppage time...
Celtic are camped in their own half as Ajax continue to look for a second. Looking like a defeat for Lennon's side now.
OFF THE POST! Celtic living dangerously as Denswil is left unmarked from the resulting corner and heads against the woodwork. Ajax looking to wrap this one up.
Almost all over as de Jong and Schone combine before the former somehow gets a shot away from a tight angle. Forster is alive to the danger though and saves with his feet.
Ajax are looking to run down the clock now as they pass the ball around under little pressure from the visitors. Just over five minutes left now for Celtic to find a goal.
Pukki has an instant impact as he combines with Forrest to create an opportunity for the winger. He makes his way into the box before Veltman makes a superb challenger just as he is about the pull the trigger. Meanwhile Poulsen replaces Klaassen for the closing stages.
A third and final change for Celtic as Commons, who looks a spent force, is replaced by Pukki. A last throw of the dice by Lennon.
More excellent play from Schone leads to him having another shot on goal. The midfielder cuts inside onto his right foot but his effort is straight at Forster. Heading into the final ten minutes.
A second Celtic change sees Ledley replace Kayal in midfield.
Celtic skipper Samaras has been a huge disappointment for the visitors, and twice in the last minute he has lost the ball as Lennon's side look to attack. Time starting to run out now.
Finally Boerrigter is brought on, with Stokes the man replaced.
Substitution for the home sides as Serero is replaced by Fischer. Lennon wants to bring Boerrigter on but the referee restarts play. Needless to say the Celtic manager is not best pleased.
Into the final 20 minutes and you fancy Lennon will have to change something soon if Celtic are to salvage something. Could it be set up for former Ajax man Boerrigter to score a crucial goal? He is being readied on the bench.
Yellow CardStefano Denswil
A cynical challenge from Denswil on Commons leads to a yellow card. The Celtic man then delivers the free-kick, and after Cillessen punches clear, Kayal shoots well over the top.
Commons has looked short of match practice and his latest free-kick sums up his evening. It is mis-hit and dribbles into Cillessen's arms.
Another cross into the box is dealt with Mulgrew sees his centre headed away. Celtic just need that little bit of quality.
Ajax are certainly a threat on the break themselves still and they look to create something on the right as van Rhijn and Schone combine. The latter delivers a cross but van Dijk is again there to clear.
Ajax are weathering the Celtic storm effectively at present with some strong defensive work. They are deserved of their lead but will have to remain solid for the final half an hour to pick up all three points.
The second half has certainly been much more open and as a consequence the match is now a much better spectacle. Celtic are chasing the game and are looking as dangerous as they have all evening.
Huge let off for Ajax as Celtic find themselves with two attackers to Ajax's one defender. Forrest is the man on the ball but his attempted pass to Stokes across the edge of the area is well intercepted by Veltman.
OFF THE LINE! Almost a second for Schone in the unlikeliest of circumstances. The goalscorer whips in a corner that Forster gets caught underneath. Fortunately for the visitors Izaguirre is alive to the danger and clears off the line.
Better play from the visitors as Kayal finds Commons who in turn feeds Stokes. The striker has a clear sight of goal but his effort is too close to Cillessen and the goalkeeper holds well down to his left.
Celtic have a chance to respond as they win a free-kick midway inside the Ajax half, but Mulgrew's ball into the box is too heavy and Cillessen can collect. The hosts have been fairly comfortable so far.
GOAL!!! The deadlock is broken and Ajax have the lead. Schone is the man who finds the net after some excellent build up play. Around five or six players are involved before a superb touch from Serero puts Schone clear, and he beats Forster with a well-placed finish.
Chances at either end as van Dijk makes a crucial interception at one end before Kayal runs half the length of the pitch before firing over under little pressure. The game is starting to open up.
Stokes has been quiet this evening but he looks to have got in behind the Ajax defence after an excellent pass by Ambrose. The linesman's flag is up though and the play is brought back for offside.
The players are ready and Celtic get us back underway in Amsterdam...
As the players begin to make their way back onto the pitch let me give you a quick update from the other match in Group H. Barcelona lead Milan 2-1, meaning if that score stays the same a win for Celtic would see them up to second in the group. They will have to better in the second half though to make that a reality.
Celtic haven't exactly inspired going forward either, with Commons lacking match fitness and Forrest struggling to get on the ball. But the longer they stay level the better their chance of stealing a winning goal. I'll be back in ten minutes to see if either side can break the deadlock.
The German referee gives a long blast of his whistle and the two sides go in at the break goalless. Ajax have had the better of the half but have lacked the quality in the final third.
Just a single minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half.
Another Ajax chance and again Schone is the architect. He whips in a cross that Serero looks to get on the end of. The ball has just too much on it as Forster can collect, though the goalkeeper maybe should have come and claimed the ball sooner rather than waiting on his line.
Yellow CardE. Izaguirre
There have been far too many fouls in this one, and Izaguirre is the latest to go into the referee's book as he cynically trips Schone as the Ajax man looks to break.
Yellow CardDavy Klaassen
Ajax's first booking of the evening goes to Klaassen after he brings down Kayal.
Celtic building some pressure as first Lustig and then Stokes win corners, but nothing comes from either of them.
Ajax are continuing to build the pressure here without looking too threatening in the final third. They certainly require more in attack if they are to win this match and continue in the tournament.
Schone's delivery is flicked on by Serero but Ambrose and Izaguirre get it clear between them.
Yet another free-kick for Ajax as Commons brings down Boilesen as the left-back looks to get forward. Schone is going to whip this one in.
A decent period of possession for Celtic goes as van Dijk passes the ball out of play after it takes a big bobble. It must have hit the only divot on this otherwise pristine playing surface.
Charlie Mulgrew has arguably been Celtic's best player thus far after winning a number of tackles in midfield. He has broken up plenty of Ajax attacks in this first half.
A first real sighting of Forrest on the right as van Dijk finds him with a superb crossfield pass. The winger runs at Boilesen but his cross is too close to Cillessen and the goalkeeper can catch under no pressure.
Yet another free-kick for Ajax, but this time it is Schone who hits it. His initial effort is blocked before his shot from the rebound is deflected wide. Celtic clear the resulting corner.
We have entered a quiet period in this match as both teams trade possession. In the other Group H match Barcelona and Milan are still locked at 0-0 at Camp Nou.
A quarter of the match gone and both managers will be fairly satisfied with what they have seen. Ajax have shown good attacking intent while Celtic have weathered the storm and look fairly dangerous on the break.
He hits it low left-footed and Forster does well to hold on after it comes through the four-man wall he had erected. Celtic living dangerously at present.
Yellow CardGeorgios Samaras
First booking of the night as Samaras is penalised for a trip on Serero. Another chance from a set-piece for the hosts as Denswil is over another free-kick...
GREAT SAVE! The best chance of the half as van Rhijn swings ina delightful cross that de Jong can get on the end of. His downward header is a good one but Forster gets across well to tip it behind. Plenty of joy for Ajax on the right as Samaras struggles to get back and help his defence.
Promising play from Celtic but poor touches from first Stokes and then Samaras allows de Boer's side to clear their lines. Not a classic in terms of attacking play thus far.
They opt for a training ground routine but van Dijk's low effort is easily blocked. Disappointing.
Better from Celtic as Stokes looks to play a ball into Commons' feet and the midfielder is brought down by Denswil. The visitors have a free-kick around 35 yards from goal...
The home side have certainly had the better of the opening exchanges as they look to really put their stamp on this game early on. Their lack of width going forward is already proving an issue though as Celtic are finding it easy to dispossess their front three.
GOOD SAVE! Denswil is the man to take it and he looks to beat Forster at his left-hand post. The goalkeeper does well to get across and tip it round the post. The resulting corner is hit too deep and the pressure on the Celtic goal abates.
Opportunity for Ajax to put a ball in the box as Commons brings down Blind around 35 yards from goal...
A first period of possession for Celtic sees Lustig get forward on the right. His cross is blocked before Kayal concedes a free-kick for a foul on Serero.
Ajax have certainly started the brighter. Schone has looked dangerous, and twice in quick succession he has put testing balls into the box. The Celtic defence were aware though and could clear through Ambrose on both occasions.
Ajax kick-off and we are underway...
The players are almost ready and the German referee seems to be happy. We're ready to go in Amsterdam...
The familiar Champions League anthem rings out around the home of Ajax before the players go through their customary pre-match handshakes. We are almost ready for kick-off in this crucial encounter.
The roof is also closed in Amsterdam, so an electric atmosphere is expected. The players are in the tunnel, and they will be met by a wall of noise once they enter the arena.
Despite their poor run of results, the Amsterdam ArenA is unsurprisingly packed to the rafters with just five minutes until kick-off. The home fans will be hopeful that they will see their side finally kickstart their European campaign.
Celtic are certainly in the better form of the two sides after going 11 matches unbeaten in the Scottish Premier League while Ajax are sixth in Eredivisie and were beaten 1-0 at home by Vitesse Arnhem on Saturday. They haven't scored since Schone found the net in Glasgow two weeks ago and have only won two of their last nine matches.
Twelve years ago Neil Lennon was part of the Celtic side that won in Amsterdam to help secure the Bhoys' first Champions League group campaign. The former Nothern Ireland international will be hopeful that he can pass on his experience of this imposing stadium to help his players secure the three points. A repeat of that result would again knock Ajax out of the competition.
The other match in Group H tonight sees Barcelona host Milan, and Lennon and his side know a home win in Spain coupled with an away win in Amsterdam will see the Scottish side move into second in the group with two matches to play. On the other hand, an Ajax win would see the Dutch side surpass tonight's opponents and rise to third in the group.
Ajax have sprung a surprise in their line-up, as Viktor Fischer is dropped to the bench. Davy Klaassen replaces him while Lasse Schone, who came on and scored at Celtic Park, also takes his place in the starting eleven.
Celtic have been buoyed by the news that Kris Commons has recovered from his hamstring injury to take his place in midfield. Commons' presence is especially key with Scott Brown suspended after his red card in the reverse fixture.
Celtic: Forster, Izaguirre, Ambrose, van Dijk, Mulgrew, Lustig, Commons, Kayal, Samaras, Stokes, Forrest.
Ajax: Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Veltman, Boilesen, Blind, Denswil, S.De Jong, Schone, Serero, Sigthorsson, Klaassen.
Before I continue with the rest of the build-up, the teams have been announced in the Dutch capital...
Celtic won the reverse fixture between the two sides in Glasgow on matchday three but will need to arrest an awful away record in continental tournaments if they are to pick up their second win of the campaign. In the Champions League proper the Bhoys have won just once in 25 trips away from Parkhead and have avoided defeat on only one other occasion. But Ajax are in poor form, and Neil Lennon will be confident of putting pressure on AC Milan and Barcelona at the top of the group.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Champions League encounter between Ajax and Celtic in Amsterdam. Despite their rich European heritage, the two sides are certainly the underdogs in Group H, and find themselves outside the qualification places after three matches. A win for either side tonight, however, could see them well placed to reach the last 16. I'm Tom Maston and I'll be guiding you through the action from the Amsterdam ArenA.
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