Ajax gear up for Celtic clash with comfortable win

Frank de Boer: Ajax manager. Picture: Getty
Frank de Boer: Ajax manager. Picture: Getty
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CELTIC’S next Champions League group opponents Ajax – who Neil Lennon’s side will meet in back to back fixtures on 22 October and 6 November – enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win yesterday at home to FC Utrecht.

Ajax, managed by former Rangers signing Frank de Boer, are a point behind top two, PSV Eindhoven and Twente, after goals from Thulani Serero, Davy Klaassen and Danny Hoesen.

Jurgen Locadia grabbed a late winner to hand PSV Eindhoven a 2-1 win against RKC Waalwijk and propel Phillip Cocu’s men back into a share of top spot in the Eredivisie. The home side went ahead through Ola Toivonen in the 23rd minute but saw their progress stunted by an equaliser from Robert Braber on the stroke of half-time.

RKC held their own in the second half until Sander Duits was dismissed with five minutes to go and the ten men could not hold out as Locadia struck to deny the struggling visitors just a sixth point of the season.

PSV now have 18 points from nine games, the same number as Twente, who won 1-0 at Cambuur on Friday night.

In Italy meanwhile, Sampdoria were left fuming after they had a goal disallowed in their Serie A match at home to Torino because the referee had blown for the end of the first half seconds before the ball entered the net.

Winless Sampdoria, leading 1-0 with a 41st-minute goal from Gianluca Sansone, thought they had added a second when Nicola Pozzi tapped the ball in after Angelo Palombo’s free kick was spilled by goalkeeper Daniele Padelli.

There was no hint of offside or any other infringement but referee Andrea Gervasoni ruled out the goal, causing angry protests from the home players.

“The referee told Palombo that after the free kick, that was the end of the half,” said Sampdoria coach Delio Rossi. “I don’t want to criticise the referee but, at 2-0, it would have been a completely different game. In an even game, these incidents can be decisive.”

Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci, from a penalty, put Torino 2-1 ahead after the break, only for the visitors to find themselves on the wrong end of an equally controversial decision in stoppage time Eder went down in the penalty area and, although it appeared he had crashed into a defender, the decision went the other way and the Brazilian himself fired home the penalty for a 2-2 draw.

Hellas Verona arrived late for their match at Bologna after trouble outside the ground and their supporters then sang through a minute’s silence for victims of the Lampedusa migrant boat disaster.

The kick-off of the Serie A match was delayed by 20 minutes which Italian media said followed fighting between fans outside the ground which left three injured. Verona’s team bus was caught in the traffic and arrived late.

Like the weekend’s other Serie A matches, the game was preceded by a minute’s silence for the victims of Thursday’s disaster when a boat carrying around 500 migrants sank off the island of Lampedusa. The Italian authorities say 181 bodies have been recovered and more than a hundred are still missing.

Television sound and pictures showed Verona fans chanting throughout the minute.