AZ did themselves short on Thursday with a draw against Real Sociedad in the group stage of the Europa League. The Alkmaarders hit the bar twice against the leader in La Liga, but had to settle for one point.
AZ stiff off the starting blocks
Real Sociedad dominated the first half in the empty AFAS Stadium, but was unable to pass goalkeeper Marco Bizot. AZ was close to the opening goal several times in an open second half and hit the bar via Dani de Wit and captain Teun Koopmeiners. However, there was no goal in Alkmaar.
Due to the scoreless draw, AZ still has a spot in the play-offs of the Europa League after four group duels. The team of trainer Slot is third with seven points. Number two Real Sociedad has as many points as AZ, but after the previous 1-0 win in San Sebastián, the club from La Liga has a better mutual result.
AZ will receive Napoli next Thursday, which after a tribute to club legend Diego Maradona, who died on Wednesday, won 2-0 against the Croatian HNK Rijeka and is the leader in group F with nine points.
AZ managed to keep Alexander Isak, former player of Willem II, from scoring in Alkmaar. (Photo: Pro Shots)
AZ, where striker Albert Gudmundsson was again preferred over the passed Myron Boadu, got off the starting blocks against Real Sociedad and was unable to keep the ball in the team due to the aggressive play of the leader of La Liga. After more than twenty minutes, the Belgian Adnan Januzaj got a dot of a chance on the 0-1, but he shot high from close range.
Only after more than half an hour of play AZ managed to hand out the first pinprick. Koopmeiners pulled the trigger from the edge of the penalty area and saw his shot sail just over the goal via a Spanish leg and the fingertips of goalkeeper Alex Remiro. Calvin Stengs’ curl shot also failed to hit the target (wide).
In a hectic final phase, both teams had great opportunities for the winning goal. (Photo: Pro Shots)
After the break, AZ took over the initiative and that resulted in several great opportunities for the Alkmaarders around the hour. De Wit first headed a cross on goalkeeper Remiro’s feet, after which the attacking midfielder hit the crossbar again with his head. In the rebound captain Koopmeiners also hit the sleeper with a rock-hard long distance shot.
The attempts on the aluminum seemed to have shaken Real Sociedad awake, as the team of former Willem II player Alexander Isak took over control again, without becoming really dangerous. Substitute Roberto Lopez still got a free kick from about 20 meters, but Bizot managed to save easily.
In the final minute, Zakaria Aboukhlal had the winning 1-0 for the inside header, but the substitute couldn’t get his head right behind a cross from substitute Boadu and saw his bet go high over the Basque goal from close by.