What a relief! Joy of joys! We won! 3 points are 3 points - their last minute away goal was typical Celtic foot-off-the-pedal in the dying moments - now, we're 3rd in the table, which just got cracked wide open by Milan and Barca splitting points in a 1-1 draw. Amsterdam, here we come - the buoys are on the road again! And congratulations to the Under-19 squad who beat their Ajax counterparts 4-1 this afternoon. Before I get to the match itself, I just have to say to any of the Ajax mob, who were trashing Glasgow today, trying to attack us walking up to the stadium, and after Forrest scored, started chucking seats, bottles and coins into the family section - SHAME ON YOU! The Celtic fans, at the game, in Glasgow are posting on FB/twitter; I'm sure more details will come out, but they were doing it in front of the police/stewards; I hope they were arrested and UEFA comes down on Ajax for their fans destroying our stadium/attacking wee boys. It's also been stated, on social media sites, that Ajax thugs are threatening to attack our fans in Amsterdam - to the traveling support - be careful and watch your back - you're not going to Seville for a party, but, potentially, entering a war zone. There's a rumour going about, that I would not hesitate to believe, that our charming, decent, ever-so supportive neighbors on the south side were posting on twitter the Celtic pubs and the weakest links to attack Celtic fans. These neighbors, languishing in some lower division, are fans of our ex-rivals, that open-hearted, gracious, honorable club that used to be called Rangers. I will stop there because I don't think my next sentence would get past the censors. Back to Celtic...for those of you that have seen my previous articles, welcome back! For those reading for the first time, hello...my name is Yvonne, born/raised in Scotland, Celtic's in my blood, now living in Los Angeles, watch the games at the local Celtic pub, Joxer Daly's. Last night, I was too excited to sleep; this morning, I was too scared to get up. I drove to the pub with bats flapping about inside me; this was a must-win game for us and I was more nervous about this one than the previous two - Brown suspended, Matthews, Commons, and Boerrigter injured. I entered the pub with 100% Hope and 50% Faith that we would pull it off. There was a fast and furious start to the game. Mulgrew had his first of many corners - that nobody could get their head on any of - in the 4th minute, but Lustig couldn't stay on his feet. (The pub was quieter than usual from a Celtic perspective, but the joy from Chelsea fans and despair from Arsenal ones made sure the pub was not quiet.) The fans at Celtic Park were in fine, high-entertainment, party form with non-stop chanting, drumming, singing and whistling - with some impromptu huddles from the fans - I love the ones trying to turn their head to see what's happening on the pitch! As the game progressed, it was obvious the teams were evenly matched, but it seemed jarring; there were bouncing balls, running about, missed chances, flubbed passes, and no rhythmn or grace to either team's performance. Desperation oozed from many players. Mulgrew and Samaras were making the best concentrated runs up the wings, but nobody could find the ball in the box to put it in the net! (Early on, Pukki flubbed a sitter, from a great Lustig cross, that I could scored.) Forster was seldom challenged in the first half, but, when he was, had a couple of lucky escapes, and was protected by his back line, who are starting to come together after the nightmare of the qualifiers. Samaras, as Captain, led from the front, and the back, and up and down that wing - despite not scoring, he'd a great game and was fully present, for a change. Approaching half-time, I was thinking this could be anybody's game; the Celtic fans in the pub were deathly silent - never a good sign - as we willed the team to victory. Then a flurry of good Celtic activity in front of their goal activated increased desperation from them - Denswil shoves Stokes off the ball in the box. Penalty awarded - there was a lot of messing about, with yellow cards issued to Poulssen and Van Dijk; I thought Cillessenn, their goalie, should have got one for coming well off his line and wandering about. Anyway, Forrest didn't get rattled and battered the ball into the net! Celtic 1 - Ajax 0. Much singing and jumping up and down, as a collective sigh of relief was released from Celtic pubs and houses around the globe! Game on! I won the raffle at half-time - first time in ages - a good omen! Good football was played in the second half. We had many chances, and missed. They had an equal amount that Forster was not troubled by! It was nice to see that the Ajax players, despite having a manager that used to play for the old Rangers, did not, in the main, resort to the theatrical tactics of our dear friends in Milan, Barcelona and Turin. 2-0! Kayal scores in 54th minute, thanks to lovely deflection from Denswil! Thank you, Denswil - we'll make you an honorary Celtic man for the night! There were many more shots, many more misses, some lovely bits of football from Samaras, Stokes and Forrest, with great runs from Mulgrew; it's so much easier to enjoy the football when you've got a 2 goal lead. Ajax kept fighting back, but Forster continued to work his genius; if the English squad doesn't pick him, they're fools - and I can sense a 10 million+ pound offer coming for him in January if he continues his stellar ways, not that I would want to lose him, but he's glowing so brightly on the world stage that I don't think we'll be able to keep him. In the 75th minute, they're awarded a soft free kick on the edge of the box - no worries - ball goes straight at the wall and Samaras' face saves it! That's worth checking out on the highlights reel - straight off his face - it didn't even look like he had time to try to header it! I was just thinking the referee was having a good game when he issued a straight red to Biton for a high tackle with mere glancing contact; now Denswil didn't even get a yellow for our penalty incident. I'm just saying. 4 Minutes of time was added; traditional Celtic style, we started thinking about the next leg, getting a hot shower, being interviewed, hitting the pub, eating sushi - whatever - and we gifted them a goal in the 94 minute. But 3 points are 3 points! I'm off to the pub to celebrate ! Winners take chances and create goals; losers make mistakes and go home with nothing...today, we won...
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