Match ends, Ajax 1, Celtic 0.
Celtic turned in their poorest Champions League performance of the campaign as they fell to a potentially damaging defeat in Amsterdam.
Lasse Schone's wonderfully-worked goal was enough to avenge the defeat the Dutch suffered at the hands of Neil Lennon's side in Glasgow.
It leaves Celtic bottom of Group H with just three points from four games.
Even if they beat Milan at home in their next game, they may need to take something from Barcelona to progress.
Celtic's display was all the more disappointing given the positivity with which they arrived in the Dutch capital.
But the thousands of travelling supporters were given little to cheer as their team barely threatened the Ajax goal.
The home side were on top throughout and the winning Ajax goal was befitting of any of the teams who have worn the famous red and white jerseys over the years.
A fabulous move of one-touch passing involving Schone, Davy Klaassen, Siem de Jong and Thulani Serero left the Celtic defence gaping in wonder as the Dane rounded it off by poking it cutely past goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Schone - impressive throughout - almost curled in a second direct from a corner, only for Emilio Izaguirre to head off the line.
Ajax also struck the post late on, with Forster gratefully watching Stefano Denswil's header come off the upright.
The tone was set by Celtic's first-half performance, which failed to reach the standards set previously in the Champions League, typified by defensive lapses and an inability to impose themselves in an attacking sense.
Despite that, Forster was called into serious action only twice.
Denswil tested him with an early 30-yard free kick, which was pushed behind by the keeper.
More impressively, he sprung to his right to tip De Jong's downward header round the post following a terrific cross by Ricardo van Rhijn.
Celtic failed to trouble Jasper Cillessen in the opening period, but should have done so just a minute before Schone struck for Ajax.
Beram Kayal was allowed to run from the halfway line as far as the edge of the Ajax penalty area, as Anthony Stokes's clever run dragged defenders away, but the midfielder's shot, under little pressure, flew wildly over.
That miss felt all the more painful as Schone made the breakthrough and though Stokes made Cillessen work shortly afterwards, the striker's effort from the left of the penalty area was comfortably held by the Dutch international.
On a bitterly disappointing evening for Celtic, only Forster and the immense Virgil van Dijk earned pass-marks and Neil Lennon will know much improvement is required if Champions League progress is to remain a reality.
- 2van Rhijn
- 24DenswilBooked at 68mins
- 18KlaassenBooked at 40minsSubstituted forPoulsenat 82'minutes
- 25SereroSubstituted forFischerat 72'minutes
- 10de Jong
- 9SigthorssonSubstituted forvan der Hoornat 90'minutes
- 6van der Hoorn
- 3IzaguirreBooked at 43mins
- 33KayalSubstituted forLedleyat 77'minutes
- 5van Dijk
- 10StokesSubstituted forBoerrigterat 73'minutes
- 15CommonsSubstituted forPukkiat 81'minutes
- 9SamarasBooked at 19mins
- Deniz Aytekin
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Ajax 1, Celtic 0.
Corner, Ajax. Conceded by Emilio Izaguirre.
Offside, Celtic. Joe Ledley tries a through ball, but Georgios Samaras is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Joe Ledley (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Teemu Pukki.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Mike van der Hoorn.
Substitution, Ajax. Mike van der Hoorn replaces Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.
Stefano Denswil (Ajax) hits the right post with a header from the centre of the box. Assisted by Lasse Schöne with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Ajax. Conceded by Fraser Forster.
Attempt saved. Siem de Jong (Ajax) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lasse Schöne.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Ajax. Christian Poulsen replaces Davy Klaassen.
Delay in match Davy Klaassen (Ajax) because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Mikael Lustig (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Substitution, Celtic. Teemu Pukki replaces Kris Commons.
Dangerous play by Nicolai Boilesen (Ajax).
James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt saved. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson (Ajax) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Viktor Fischer.
Attempt saved. Lasse Schöne (Ajax) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Viktor Fischer.
Substitution, Celtic. Joe Ledley replaces Beram Kayal.