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Schone revives Ajax hopes in Champions League

Ajax Amsterdam's Lasse Schone celebrates his goal against Celtic during their Champions League soccer match at Amsterdam Arena November 6, 2
Ajax Amsterdam's Lasse Schone celebrates his goal against Celtic during their Champions League soccer match at Amsterdam Arena November 6, 2

(Reuters) - Lasse Schone scored at the end of a sweeping move early in the second half to earn Ajax Amsterdam a 1-0 win over Celtic in the Champions League on Wednesday and a first success for the Dutch club in Group H.

The victory revived Ajax's chances of progress from the group phase as they moved on to four points from as many matches, just one behind second-placed AC Milan.

But the match overshadowed by clashes between rival supporters in Amsterdam before kick-off that left eight policeman in hospital and around 15 arrests were made.

Danish international Schone's goal came at the end of a series of swift interchanges of short passes involving five different Ajax players as they picked open the Scottish club's defence to break the deadlock in the 51st minute.

Defeat for Celtic left them bottom with three points and matches to come at home to Milan this month and away at leaders Barcelona in December.

The Glasgow club also wasted chances to at least share the spoils when they twice came close on the counter-attack in a match played at high tempo between two evenly-matched sides.

Beram Kayal shot wildly over at the end of a long surge upfield in the 50th minute that saw the home defenders backing off and being pulled wide by other players and a gap opening up for the Celtic midfielder who wasted his chance.

Seven minutes later James Forrest and Anthony Stokes were two up against a solitary Ajax defender on a swift counter attack but Forrest fluffed his attempted pass to Stokes who would have needed just to place the ball into the net for the equaliser.

Ajax had an in-swinging corner cleared off the line by fullback Emilio Izaguirre.

Three set pieces in the first half presented Ajax with scoring chances as Stefano Denswil twice forced saves out of the Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who also denied Ajax captain Siem de Jong's 17th minute header.

De Jong was a surprise choice at center forward by coach Frank de Boer, who had insisted before the match that Ajax had to win to keep alive their hopes in the competition.

"We fought hard for the win and I saw many great attacks. I saw tonight an absolute will to win," De Boer told reporters.

The victory will come as much as a relief as a boost for the Dutch champions whose domestic league form has been poor.

"Hopefully we can take this win and form in their next match," added De Jong in post-match television interview.

"Things can change so quickly in football."

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ed Osmond; mark.gleeson@thomsonreuters.com +27828257807 Messaging mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; ed)

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