Ajax coach does not fear Hartson

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The Independent Online

Celtic's treble-winners know all about cleaning up, but the man in charge of Ajax does not feel the new-improved version – containing added John Hartson – is better than last season's squad.

Co Adriaanse watched Henrik Larsson ensure Martin O'Neill's side are back in business with a late winner at Kilmarnock which gives the Parkhead side joint leadership of the Scottish Premier League after just two games.

Yet, the Ajax coach believes it will be the tried-and-tested Larsson rather than £6m recruit Hartson – who came off the bench to make his debut following his move from Coventry City – who will make the difference when the two clubs meet in the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday in a vital Champions' League third qualifying round first leg.

"I was not impressed by Hartson, my defenders will be able to handle him," said Adriaanse. "But Larsson is the most dangerous player. He keeps cool in front of goal and you need two defenders for him, because one-on-one against him is too dangerous." Certainly Larsson's 75th minute finish – his first league goal of the season – ensured Celtic emerged from what was potentially a tricky fixture at Rugby Park, where they lost on the final day of last season.

Dunfermline share top spot, as the only other side with maximum points after just two games, thanks to an impressive 2-0 win away to St Johnstone. Barry Nicholson and David Nicholls both struck eye-catching goals but the former added: "It is too early to get carried away by our position. A top six place is our only aim."

Hibernian's hopes of re-launching a similar challenge to last term has seen them get left in the blocks this time. They lost 2-1 at Dundee, where the Argentinian strikers Juan Sara and Fabian Caballero set up a goal for one another.

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