AFC Ajax moved above Celtic FC into third place in Group H after a solitary Lasse Schöne goal gave them all three points in Amsterdam.
If the matchday four encounter needed a spark after a largely uneventful first half, it got it six minutes from the restart as Denmark midfielder Schöne kept his head when one-on-one with Celtic No1 Fraser Forster. Chances followed at both ends as the game finally opened up, but ultimately Schöne's strike was enough to prolong Celtic's miserable away record in the UEFA Champions League and hoist Ajax back into contention for second spot.
In an often forgettable opening period, Forster was the first keeper called into action, palming a Stefano Denswil free-kick around the post on eight minutes. The big Englishman repeated the feat after Ricardo van Rhijn's cross was headed goalwards by Siem de Jong. If those two saves helped keep the scoreline blank, Forster's opposite number Jasper Cillessen had probably one of the quietest 45 minutes of his career, amid little cohesive play from either side.
Ajax did enjoy more possession and a territorial advantage, but created no opportunities of any note. For their part, Celtic earned a couple of corners shortly before the break which came to nothing. The half-time recess heralded a sea change, however, and the visitors' Beram Kayal soon passed up a glorious chance, running unchallenged through the heart of the home defence only to blaze his effort high and wide.
The miss was to prove costly – Ajax took the lead seconds later. Schöne drove into the box after a one-two with Thulani Serero and beat Foster with a clever low shot. Suddenly the match was alive. Anthony Stokes forced Cillessen into a good save before Emilio Izaguirre headed another Schöne attempt off the line. Back came Celtic, and only a Jöel Veltman interception prevented James Forrest's pass reaching the unmarked Stokes in the Ajax area.
The Bhoys started to gain the upper hand and won two free-kicks in dangerous positions, but Cillessen dealt easily with the first from Kris Commons and then punched the second clear. The same player tried an audacious lob from 25 metres that narrowly cleared the bar.
Derk Boerrigter came on against his old club to inject some pace into the Celtic attack, yet it was team-mate Forrest who threatened next, worming his way into the box before being crowded out. Not that Ajax were being overrun: Denswil headed against the post in the dying minutes, though in the end it was Schöne alone who decided the contest. For the Scottish champions it signalled a 24th defeat in 26 away games in the UEFA Champions League.
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