Instead of disappearing out of this season's Champions League, this exhilarating, cruel, joyous, merciless tournament remains live for Celtic. They have some precious points, at the third time of asking, in Group H. And they have hope.
Ajax have now replaced them at the bottom of the section and the teams will meet again in Amsterdam on November 6. By then the throb in everyone's eardrums will have subsided. There was an unmistakable sense that the Celtic fans put in one almighty effort last night, suspecting that if there was to be any faint hope of reaching the last 16 it would rest on them inspiring their team to something special here.
The performance was no classic but they scrapped tirelessly, and at times Ajax wilted. James Forrest was cool as you like to score the penalty that put them ahead in a relentlessly tense, compelling game. Biram Kayal's shot took a big deflection on its away into Ajax's net for 2-0. There was luck to go with the mesmerising atmosphere, but no shame in that. A goal with almost the last kick of the ball night gave Lasse Schone a goal, too late to matter.
The cast list changes for Celtic yet they continue to be able to dig out precious European results. No Scott Brown? No Kris Commons? No points at kick-off? None of those setbacks were insurmountable. Neil Lennon put out virtually the only team and shape still available to him. What they produced was one of those gutsy, commendable performances which has broken down better teams than Ajax over the years and was again too good for the young Dutch champions. Lennon did not have the luxury of many options. It was Kayal or Joe Ledley in midfield, and that was it. Kayal was preferred and rewarded him with a big performance. Forrest, Charlie Mulgrew and Mikael Lustig were prominent too. Fraser Forster made a key save to prevent it going to 1-1 and soon it was 2-0.
Ajax had hoped Nikolas Moisander, their Finnish defender, would be fit to add some years to a callow defence but the 28-year-old did not make it. That left Frank de Boer with Stefano Denswil and Joel Veltman, 20 and 21 respectively in the middle. Veltman was making his European debut. The Dutch champions do not play like green-behind-the-ears children, that is for sure. They remain true to the purity of their club's traditions. This Ajax team is no match for some of those which wore the colours in the past, of course, but they maintain the template of fluid, possession football and players being comfortable in possession.
There was a spell in the first half where they had Celtic on the back foot and looking ragged. When Viktor Fischer fired a free-kick across the area, Mulgrew's header merely sent it flying towards Christian Poulsen who cracked a shot off the post. Parkhead breathed again, as it had earlier when Forster fumbled a cross and had to boot the ball away. Kayal put in a great challenge to deny Fischer.
Celtic tried to press Ajax high, denying their defence the chance to build from the back. Neither Georgios Samaras, Anthony Stokes or Teemu Pukki had much joy in the penalty area. One Lustig cross begged for Pukki to convert but the chance came and went. Once Ajax got a foothold, they settled and looked comfortable.
In truth there was nothing in it up until the moment things suddenly turned in Celtic's favour two minutes before half-time. Ajax looked to have dealt with an attack, but the ball was worked back to Stokes and he was pulled down by Denswil. Ivan Bebek instantly pointed to the spot. There plenty of distractions for Forrest to deal with - the referee respotted the ball and issued yellow cards, while goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen went for a wander - but none of it perturbed him. Wee Forrest looked like he would be more worried if he was in a dentist's waiting room: he stroked the penalty high and firm towards the top right-hand corner and the place exploded. It was so deafening it was impossible to hear Bebek whistle for half-time a few seconds later.
Gloriously for the raucous fans, Celtic soon had the breathing space of a second goal. Poulsen hitting the post preceded the Forrest goal, and then the excellent little midfielder Thulani Sereno had a chance which Emilio Izaguirre and Forster denied. Celtic came again. A Samaras attack was cleared out but Kayal sized up the goal before unleashing a great low drive. The deflection off Denswil was cruel but decisive, rerouting the ball beyond Cillessen's reach for 2-0. Kayal was suddenly like a kitten with a ball of wool, launching a couple more without success, before being replaced. He got a standing ovation.
With a couple of minutes left substitute Nir Biton got a straight red card for an awful, studs-up tackle on Sereno. On the way towards the tunnel he tried to protest his innocence to Lennon, whose dismissive gesture showed he was not impressed. Nor was he amused by Schone's late goal. It did not matter: the final whistle soon bathed him in noise and relief. Celtic live on.