Football - Kayal wants dynamic duo back

Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal hopes to have Scott Brown and Kris Commons back in the team for next month's Champions League meeting with Ajax - insisting the duo can help fire the Hoops towards the last 16.

PA Sport
Football - Kayal wants dynamic duo back

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Beram Kayal believes Celtic's returning stars can fire them into the last 16 of the Champions League

Israel international Kayal stood in for suspended skipper Brown in Tuesday night's 2-1 win over the Dutch champions after the Scotland midfielder was handed a three-match ban by UEFA for kicking out at Barcelona star Neymar earlier this month.

Parkhead boss Neil Lennon has not given up hope of having that punishment reduced and has lodged an appeal with Europe's governing body.

And Kayal believes having both the club captain and Commons - who watched the Ajax victory from the Celtic Park stands after sustaining a hamstring injury in Saturday's win at Hibernian - back in their ranks will give their hopes of escaping Group H a huge boost.

He said: "We missed Scott and Kris. Brown is a great captain and Commons is magic.

"They are great players and we want them back for the next few games. We need the squad to be strong and hopefully we can go to Ajax and win there."

James Forrest's penalty in first-half stoppage time put Celtic ahead against Frank de Boer's Amsterdam outfit before Kayal slotted home a second eight minutes into the second half with the help of a deflection.

The victory was the Hoops' first of this year's campaign following opening defeats to AC Milan and Barcelona and gives the Glasgow giants renewed hope of emulating last year's run to the knockout stages.

"I'm so happy we have got the three points at last," said Kayal. "In the first two games, we played well against Barcelona and AC Milan, but now we have won the three points and that was important for us if we are to qualify from this group.

"We are just looking step-by-step but it now gives us a good chance."

The hosts' barely missed Brown's battling capacities as understudy Kayal put in a tenacious display at Celtic Park.

As well as netting the crucial second ahead of Lasse Schone's stoppage-time consolation effort for the visitors, the 25-year-old former Maccabi Haifa midfielder also came up with a goal-saving tackle midway through the first half as he darted back to rob Viktor Fischer just as the Dane looked set to put Ajax ahead.

But Kayal refused to dwell on his own performance as he hailed the team-work which now gives the Scottish champions a fighting chance of pipping Milan to the second qualification spot for the round of 16.

Kayal, who missed the whole of September with a groin strain, said: "I'm just back after four weeks out with a groin injury but hopefully I can stay fit now and try to help the team as much as I can because I have miss the games when I am out.

"The goals and the tackle, everything I do is for the club and to help my mates in the team. I'm so happy to be back and when the gaffer asks me to do a job, I was glad to do it.

"I'm pleased for the team because we really deserved the three points."

Celtic travel to the Amsterdam ArenA on November 6 for their second meeting with Ajax before hosting Milan on November 26. They then round off their group campaign with a tough match at Barca's Camp Nou on December 11.

Meanwhile, UEFA says it will wait for its delegate's report before deciding whether to take action against Ajax following scuffles involving its supporters at Celtic Park.

Fans were seen clashing with stewards in the moments following Forrest's opener while there were also reports claiming that the travelling supporters had ripped up seats.

However, Police Scotland confirmed no Dutch fans were arrested during the game.

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