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Upbeat Ronny Deila promises to come back stronger as Celtic crash out of Europa League

Celtic 1-2 Ajax

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic's Europa League dream was brought to an end as Ajax substitute Vaclav Cerny scored a late winner for the visitors at Parkhead.

Returning Hoops midfielder Callum McGregor, only starting due to a midfield crisis, gave the home team the lead and some belief in the third minute with a cool drive.

The Dutch side recovered however, and by the time Arkadiusz Milik levelled in the 21st minute they were bossing most of an open match. Celtic re-asserted themselves only to be stung two minutes from time with Cerny's breakaway effort wrapping up a 2-1 win, although Fenerbahce's victory over already-qualified Molde made the result academic.

Bhoys boss Ronny Deila said: "Some of the same things were happening. Again it was not good enough. But I can see talent that will develop.

"I see that we are younger and there are a lot of players that haven't played at this level.

"This gives me a lot of energy to bounce back and I've done that many times in my career.

"The results are not the same as last year but the group is better. We deserved more this year than we did last year.

"It's small details that will get us through and next year everyone knows what we want.

"We buy talent and players who can be Champions League players. No one is at that level in the first game.

"We started well and scored a great goal. In the second-half we created chances to win it but in the end we lost because of a couple of easy mistakes.

"There was more energy in the team and the second-half was very positive. The message to the fans is that we'll be ready next year and that's the task I have."

McGregor took his opportunity but the hosts were unable to take advantage of a raft of other chances.

McGregor said: "In the league we get a lot of chances, but in Europe you've got to take them. It was a good feeling to score. The game got off to a great start and we controlled the game in the first 10, 15 minutes and got at them. But at the end of the game we switched off and got done on the counter."

Celtic remain bottom of Group A with two points with their final match against Fenerbahce in Istanbul next month a dead rubber.

The Bhoys got off to a dream start when McGregor took a pass from Gary Mackay-Steven and edged inside onto his right foot before despatching a shot from 20 yards.

The Dutch side settled down and began to move the ball around the pitch with increasing confidence and there was no surprise when their equaliser arrived.

Viktor Fischer took advantage of a deflected strike from Lasse Schone which landed in his path inside the box and although Celtic keeper Craig Gordon beat away his close-range strike, he headed the rebound back across goal where Polish striker Milik knocked it over the line.

With five minutes remaining, the impressive Amix Younes crashed a shot against the post before Ajax broke and Cerny, on for Fischer, drove in number two to sink the home side.        

Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic,Tierney (Izaguirre 78), Forrest, Armstrong, Rogic (Mulgrew 66), McGregor,

Mackay-Steven (Allan 71), Griffiths.

Subs Not Used: Bailly, Ambrose, Ciftci, Stokes.

Booked: Allan.

Goals: McGregor 3.

Ajax: Cillessen, Tete, van der Hoorn (Sanogo 80), Riedewald, Dijks, Schone (van de Beek 72), Klaassen, Gudelj, Fischer (Cerny 68), Milik, Younes.

Subs not used: Boer,Van Rhijn,Heitinga,Viergever.

Booked: Tete.

Goals: Milik 22,Cerny 87.

Referee: Felix Zwayer (Germany).

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