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Why Ajax and Celtic drew

Ajax and Celtic will both have felt a mixture of relief and frustration at their opening 2-2 draw in Group A, writes our match reporter Derek Brookman in Amsterdam.

The points were shared
The points were shared ©Getty Images

Emilio Izaguirre's red card
There is no doubt the second booking for the Celtic left-back with 16 minutes to go was a crucial moment. "Our defence did some unbelievable work this evening; before the red card Ajax only created two or three chances," said the scorer of Celtic's opener, Nir Bitton.

Lasse Schöne, whose late free-kick ensured a share of the spoils, was in agreement. "We had difficulty finding a way through their back line but after the sending-off we started applying far more pressure and it paid dividends. With a bit of luck we could have claimed all three points."

Faulty radar
Despite the four goals, neither team were at their best going forward. Frank de Boer's side pinned Celtic back repeatedly but, especially in the second half, the final ball in from the wings was too near to Craig Gordon or simply inaccurate.

For the Hoops, Leigh Griffiths was frequently isolated and reduced to chasing speculative long balls. When Scotland's title holders did manage to work the ball forward through the team then a decent chance invariably resulted; unfortunately for them it did not happen often enough.

Ajax celebrate their equaliser
Ajax celebrate their equaliser©Getty Images

Keen to avoid a losing start
A draw was obviously an acceptable result for the visitors, given they had only recorded two wins in their previous 15 European away fixtures. "For us to come away with a point from Amsterdam is a good result and it gives us a solid platform to build on for the next home match," said Kris Commons.

But maybe it ultimately suited Ajax too. "The coach didn't tell us to change anything during the break, even though we were 2-1 behind," said Ajax defender Jairo Riedewald. "He said we had a pretty good grip on the match and we had to be patient." Hardly the message of a man willing to risk everything for victory.

A win would have been welcome; a defeat deeply damaging. With that in mind it is entirely plausible that both sides are content to have avoided losing. And with Molde triumphing 3-1 at Fenerbahçe in Istanbul, it seems like Group A will be a cracker – and every point gained of considerable value.

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