Ajax relief after Celtic victory ends poor run

Thu Nov 7, 2013 4:33am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

(Reuters) - A Champions League victory over Celtic on Wednesday provided Ajax Amsterdam with a lifeline in the competition and also lifted a cloud of anxiety hanging over the Dutch side after some poor results.

Coach Frank de Boer pumped the air with his fist on the final whistle as a roar engulfed the stadium and the players fell on top of each other in a group hug after the 1-0 home win over the Scottish champions.

"It is a burden off our shoulders," said goal hero Lasse Schone after the win pushed Ajax back into contention for a top two finish in Group H and a chance to advance to the knockout phase.

A sense of relief at the Amsterdam Arena was palpable after a series of recent setbacks led to some serious introspection in the build-up to the game.

On the eve of the match there were calls for calm and perspective as Ajax hobbled into the tie without a win in the group phase and on the back of some poor results in domestic competition.

Ajax had only a Dutch Cup win over amateur opposition to show from their five previous matches before Schone's 51st minute goal provided them with success on Wednesday.

"It was great to win again and especially in the manner in which we did it. It was a big relief," said the Danish international, among the more experienced players in a youthful squad struggling to match past successes of the four-times European champions.

"People panic too easily when there is a period of adversity. That makes no sense. They must concentrate on getting the footballing aspects right and we will see the results coming again," said Johan Cruyff, the club legend who wields pervasive influence behind the scenes.

QUALITY   Continued...

Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre (L) heads the ball past Ajax Amsterdam's Siem de Jong during their Champions League soccer match at Amsterdam Arena November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters