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Celtic hopes high after home Ajax victory

Published: Wednesday 23 October 2013, 7.37CET
Giorgios Samaras said a 2-1 win against AFC Ajax means Celtic FC are "still alive" in the hunt for qualification from Group H, as Daley Blind was left to rue the visitors' profligacy.
by Alex O'Henley
from Celtic Park
Celtic hopes high after home Ajax victory
Giorgios Samaras (right) holds off Ajax's Thulani Serero ©Getty Images
 
 
 
Published: Wednesday 23 October 2013, 7.37CET

Celtic hopes high after home Ajax victory

Giorgios Samaras said a 2-1 win against AFC Ajax means Celtic FC are "still alive" in the hunt for qualification from Group H, as Daley Blind was left to rue the visitors' profligacy.

Starting his first Celtic FC game since late August, James Forrest repaid Neil Lennon's faith when he scored the first-half penalty that set the Scottish title holders on course for their first points of UEFA Champions League Group H. Strike-partner Giorgios Samaras said the result against AFC Ajax means the Hoops are "still alive" in the race for second as visiting defender Daley Blind and Lasse Schöne, who scored a late consolation, were left to rue a host of missed chances which once again cost the Dutch team dear.

James Forrest, Celtic winger
That was only my second penalty for the first team. I am always telling the manager I'm confident about taking them, but I'm just glad we got three points. The goalkeeper tried to play mind games, but I just focused on where I wanted to put the ball and I'm just glad it went in. It was important to get the second goal because 1-0 with 15 minutes to go is a dangerous score; the two-goal lead gave us a bit of comfort.

We'll take it one game at a time now. We look forward to Amsterdam and we'll take it from there. Hopefully, we'll have a couple of players back as well, so we should be stronger. That's the first 90 minutes since I came back [from a virus] so I'm glad I got through it. I feel good and now I'm looking forward to the next game on Sunday [against Partick Thistle FC].

Giorgios Samaras, Celtic striker
It was very important to win our first game in the group. It means we can still aim for second place. We know we need to go to Amsterdam and take something positive from that match. The important thing is that we pressed them really high. It was really difficult for them to win the ball. We didn't do that well in the final third in the first half, but we were better in the second. We had more space to attack down the flanks and if you look at the game over the 90 minutes, we deserved to win.

We're still alive for second place and that's the most important thing. Hopefully, Barcelona can win their next game, we get something in Amsterdam and then it will come down maybe to our home match against Milan.

Daley Blind, Ajax defender
We missed a lot of chances, especially in the first half, and because we didn't take them we have now made life difficult for ourselves. Celtic scored two goals against the run of play. They are a physical team and we had a problem with that. If you look at the chances we probably deserved a point here. We need to win the return in Amsterdam to be in contention for third place. We know that, but we have a lot of trust in our team, so I look forward to it.

Lasse Schöne, Ajax midfielder
We are disappointed. We deserved more from this game. We created a couple of good chances, but in the Champions League you need to take them or you will be punished, that's the disappointment. It leaves us with a mountain to climb in the group. If you look back at the Milan game we gave away a penalty in the final seconds. We can all look in the mirror and say we could have got more out of these two games. A draw would have been a fair result.

Last updated: 23/10/13 9.10CET

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