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2001-08-22: Celtic 0-1 Ajax, European Cup
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- Champions League Qualifiers: Second Leg match
- First Leg: Ajax 1-3 Celtic
- Second Leg: Celtic 0-1 Ajax
- Agg: Celtic 3-2 Ajax
- Celtic qualify into the group stages of the Champions league for the first time!!!!!!
Mjallby, Boyd, Valgaeren, Agathe,
Lennon, Lambert, McNamara (Moravcik 72), Guppy,
Substitutes:- Kharine, Sylla, Tebily, Petrov, Crainey.
Grim, Chivu, Trabelsi, Vierklau (Knopper 72), Bergdolmo (Mido 76), Maxwell, Wamberto, Yakubu, van der Vaart, Machlas (Ibrahimovic 65), Arveladze.
Substitutes:- Stekelenburg, Heitinga, Pienarr.
Ajax scorer:- Wamberto 30.
Ref:- Stefano Braschi (Italy)
Booked:- Yakubu, van der Vaart, Mido
- Match Report
By Chris Roberts, PA Sport
Martin O'Neill took a step closer to legendary status at Parkhead as he led Celtic to the Champions League group stages for the first time in the club's history. But Ajax did everything in their power to scare a nervous Hoops support and gatecrash their party. A magical first-half goal from Wambert Campos gave the Dutch side hope of pulling off a sensational comeback. But both Abuhakari Yakubu and Rafael van der Vaart should have been sent off for shocking challenges. Celtic knew that the Dutch side would throw everything at them after their disaster in the Amsterdam Arena a fortnight ago and O'Neill found two heroes tonight in Johan Mjallby and Joos Valgaeren. The defensive duo passed late fitness tests to play and that and the display of goalkeeper Robert Douglas was vital.
But Celtic started the brighter of the two sides and should have completely killed the tie off after just one minute. Johan Mjallby got away from his marker at the back post to head Steve Guppy's floated free-kick across the face of goal and Joos Valgaeren was inches away from heading home from close range. Ajax looked vulnerable from crosses in the early exchanges and Henrik Larsson found space in the area moments later to head Guppy's inswinging cross just over the bar.
The expected onslaught from the visitors did not materialise, but Shota Arveladze, scorer in Amsterdam, gave Celtic a warning in the sixth minute with a flashing long-range shot just past the upright. But Celtic's task should have been made easier in the 16th minute when Larsson, in full flight, was brutally hacked down by Abuhakari Yakubu near the touch line. The home fans were vying to see red, but Italian referee Stefano Braschi brandished a yellow card instead and the Dutch side lived to fight another day.
But Douglas saved his side in the 20th minute from going a goal down, as his defence stood still. Campos' attempted chip into the box came off the head of a Celtic player and into his path, but Douglas was quick off his line to deflect his effort wide of the post. But the visitors were enjoying a fair amount of possession and were causing the home side all kinds of problems on the break. Celtic looked nervous at the back and on the half-hour the tie was thrown open again as Ajax scored with a wonderful move. The lively Campos played the ball up to Arveladze and he skillfully dragged the ball back into his path to send him clean through and he coolly slotted the ball past Douglas. Celtic were clearly rattled and again had Douglas to thank two minutes later as Arveladze got away down the left and unleashed a fierce left-foot shot which the keeper could only punch away.
But Ajax again threw their weight around and were again lucky not to get a man sent off on the stroke of half-time after a reckless lunge by Rafael van der Vaart on European Cup winner Paul Lambert. Ajax still needed to score two more goals in the next 45 minutes and to stop Celtic from scoring to go through. But they came out full of confidence and pushed Celtic back after the restart and Douglas comfortably saved an ambitious long-range effort from Yakubu in the 48th minute. Celtic had to dig deep to stop the flow and their nervous supporters were doing their upmost to spur them on. Ajax coach Adriaanse tried to freshen his side up in the 66th minute by replacing Nikos Machlas with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but despite looking dead on their feet Mjallby and Valgaeren appeared to be holding out.
O'Neill was looking to kill off the match and he decided to bring on playmaker Lubo Moravcik for McNamara in the 72nd minute and Richard Knopper replaced Ferdi Vierklau for Ajax. Adriaanse also took off Andre Bergdolmo and brought on Achmed Hossan, who almost threw the tie wide open with 13 minutes remaining. The substitute wriggled free on the left side of the box, but Douglas stood up to him and made a brilliant stop to deny him. Hossan was clearly upset at not finding the net and was booked soon after for dissent. A flare among the Ajax fans was causing concern and police clashed with a small number of Dutch fans.
But nothing could ruin the celebrations at the final whistle as the European Cup winners of 1967 and manager O'Neill look forward to joining football's elite again in tomorrow's draw.
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