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Celtic's Dedryck Boyata is upbeat for Ajax tie despite firing blank


Close battle: Celtic’s James Forrest clashes with Kilmarnock’s Kevin McHattie during the Premiership clash

Close battle: Celtic’s James Forrest clashes with Kilmarnock’s Kevin McHattie during the Premiership clash


Close battle: Celtic’s James Forrest clashes with Kilmarnock’s Kevin McHattie during the Premiership clash

Dedryck Boyata expects Europa League opponents Ajax to allow Celtic the space denied to them by Kilmarnock in Saturday's dreary goalless draw at Parkhead.

The Ladbrokes Premiership leaders struggled to break down a compact and resolute Rugby Park side who were more than happy to escape with a point.

The closest Ronny Deila's side came to a breakthrough was in the closing minutes when Hoops defender Boyata crashed a header off the crossbar.

The Scottish champions immediately turned their attention to Europe where they have a win-or-bust home clash with the Dutch outfit on Thursday night.

After four Group A matches and back-to-back defeats to Norwegian side Molde, Deila's men are bottom with two points and need to beat Ajax at home and Fenerbahce away to reach the knock-out stages.

Boyata believes Ajax, only one point ahead of Celtic, will open the match up when they come to Glasgow.

The 24-year-old Belgium international said: "Ajax are a team that like to play football. I don't think they will stay at the back.

"If we break against a team who come against us then there is more space and maybe we create more chances.

"When a team stay at the back it is difficult because to create the chances you need to open them up. Ajax is a really important game. The last two Europa League games were disappointing. We know how good we can be and we didn't manage to be as good as we usually are.

"So it is a really important game and we need to be at our best."

Deila admitted to being "very frustrated" at drawing a blank against the ninth-placed Ayrshire side but understood why Rugby Park boss Gary Locke concentrated on keeping a clean sheet. The Norwegian said: "I understand why they did it. It is hard, especially when you don't get the first goal and they get deeper and deeper. It gets more difficult.

"I was disappointed with the last 30 minutes. We started to get everybody inside the centre of the pitch and then it is easier to defend because we are not a very physical team but we need to open spaces and stretch them to create chances."

Several Celtic fans groups have called for club chairman Ian Bankier to consider his position following his remarks about the criticism of fellow director Lord Ian Livingston.

Bankier described some Hoops fans' online treatment of the Tory peer as "criminally racist" amid the row over Livingston's House of Lords backing for the UK Government's tax credits cuts.

The Celtic chairman was speaking at the club's annual general meeting on Friday before Livingston was reappointed as director, despite an online petition calling for him to be removed.

The Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters' Clubs, the Celtic Trust and the Green Brigade have released a joint statement expressing their anger.

The statement read: "We are of the belief that Mr Bankier is no longer able to redeem himself, and his failure to retract and apologise immediately afterwards, and we call on him to give serious consideration to his position as chairman of Celtic PLC."

Belfast Telegraph