Friday, January 20, 2017

Ajax 2 Celtic 2: Schone salvages a share of the spoils

SoccerNews in Eredivisie 17 Sep 2015

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Ajax came from behind twice to clinch a 2-2 draw against 10-man Celtic in Thursday’s Europa League encounter at the Amsterdam ArenA following Lasse Schone’s late equaliser.

The Scottish champions made a brilliant start to the Group A opener as Nir Bitton opened the scoring within eight minutes.

Ajax quickly hit back, though, as Viktor Fischer restored parity after a sublime attack midway through the first half.

Yet Mikael Lustig gave Celtic the lead again just prior to half-time with a fine header after a corner kick.

Celtic suffered a setback after the break following Emilio Izaguirre’s dismissal and Schone then made it 2-2 in the closing stages.

Sloppy play from Daley Sinkgraven saw Celtic break the deadlock early on. The Ajax midfielder lost possession inside his own half, allowing Kris Commons to set up Bitton and the Israeli midfielder beat Jasper Cillessen with a powerful low shot.

The Eredivisie side looked to threaten via the wings and this tactic nearly paid off in the 16th minute. Anwar El Ghazi skipped past Izaguirre down the right, yet his shot from a narrow angle was blocked by another Celtic defender.

Amin Younes then tried his luck after cutting inside from the left, but the Germany Under-21 international’s attempt lacked the power to trouble Craig Gordon.

Ajax did get their equaliser in the 24th minute after a sublime move. Younes found Davy Klaassen after beating his marker, who in turn reached Fischer with a clever back-heel and the latter found the net with a well-placed shot from the edge of the area.

The visitors came close to restoring their lead when James Forrest linked up with Leigh Griffiths after a clever throw-in, yet Cillessen pulled off a superb save to deny the Celtic striker.

Celtic did get their second goal of the evening shortly after, though. Commons sent in a dangerous corner and Lustig beat his man to the ball before heading home.

Frank de Boer’s men desperately pushed for another equaliser early in the second half and got two good chances to make it 2-2 in the 54th minute. First, Fischer miscontrolled Younes’ pass when he appeared to be on his way to Gordon and Klaassen then attempted a back-heel for El Ghazi in a dangerous position rather than go for goal himself.

Ajax struggled to really create any chances of note after Klaassen’s miss and only looked dangerous from set-pieces, both Nemanja Gudelj and Arek Milik aiming too high from free-kicks.

Celtic, meanwhile, were reduced to 10 men with just under 20 minutes left as Izaguirre received his second yellow card.

Klaassen then came close after a fine cross from Mitchell Dijks, yet the Ajax skipper aimed inches wide. Milik also got a decent chance to equalise, only to see his header hit the upright before the ball was cleared to safety.

However, Ajax did clinch a point with six minutes remaining as Schone found the net with a free-kick from a narrow angle that surprised Gordon.

Milik should have decided the game in the hosts’ favour after a sublime cross from Dijks, but the Polish striker aimed his header too high.

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