Celtic 2 Ajax 1 match report: Kayal at the centre as Celtic down Dutch through force

Energy of the fans was enough to lift Celtic and give them the edge over Dutch opposition

Celtic Park

The sheer intensity of Celtic could not be contained. Ajax were capable of precision and quick, cutting interchanges, but they could not stand firm against a team that was adamant that victory would belong to them. If the general play was mostly evenly balanced, the forceful incidents all belonged to Celtic.

Ajax will have left Glasgow last night still dazed by the occasion and all of its devastating moments. Neil Lennon’s side tends to feel charged by these European nights at Celtic Park, and that energy was enough to provide the edge over Ajax. The Dutch were composed in all but the most crucial area, since the inadequacy of their defending was critical.

This was two teams that understood the contest was as much about elimination as glory. The loser, even with three Group H fixtures remaining, would concede that their hopes of qualifying would be remote. They carried their flaws into the game. Ajax have not won an away game all season, while Celtic had not scored in either of their previous Champions League encounters.

The home side, too, were missing their captain, Scott Brown, who provides their midfield drive, and Kris Commons, who is at the heart of their creative impulses. Nonetheless, there was no sense of inhibition; not at Celtic Park, where the faint-hearted tend to be overcome by the raucous noise of the home crowd.

A contrast was quickly evident. Where Ajax sought to be controlled in their play, Celtic were relying on swamping their opponents, of surging beyond a defence that has conceded a slew of goals this season and contained at centre-back Joel Veltman, a 21-year-old making his European debut, and Stefano Denswil, a 20-year-old.

Hesitancy was evident amongst the Ajax backline when Mikael Lustig crossed for Teemu Pukki, but the Finnish striker could not apply a strong enough touch on the ball. The visitors were more assured going forward, with some of their one-touch passing, and the angles of their movement, sharp enough to leave Celtic’s defence looking static. This included at set-pieces and Christian Poulsen’s volley struck the post from Viktor Fischer’s free-kick.

For all the crispness of their passing, Ajax could not contain the peril of their inexperience. As half-time approached, Denswil rashly tripped Anthony Stokes inside the penalty area. James Forrest finished powerfully and accurately from the spot.

The interval was a respite from the rush of blood that the game experienced, but there was no lasting escape for Denswil. When the ball broke to Beram Kayal at the edge of the area soon after the restart, his shot deflected into the net off the Ajax defender. The play was hectic by then, with Thulani Serero scorning a chance to equalise just before the goal, only for Fraser Forster to deny him. The only regret for Celtic was Nir Biton being sent off two minutes from the end, for a dangerous challenge on Serero. Then the substitute Lasse Schöne struck a late consolation for Ajax from 20 yards out.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all