Karlsson conjures AZ to spot two, pressure on Feyenoord and Ajax increases
Watch the summary of AZ-FC Groningen
AZ ended its dream week with a home victory over a struggling FC Groningen (1-0). After a wonder goal by Jesper Karlsson, the crowd in Alkmaar sat up and took notice, but it was anything but a gala performance.
Karlsson dribbled, hijacked, turned and all of that at lightning speed. And then a shot from about 25 meters plopped into the far corner, behind a chance-less Michael Verrips. There were not even five minutes on the clock and people were already on the benches.
After all, AZ is once again in the race for the title and thus also for a lucrative ticket to the Champions League, which can still be reached via the qualifying round.
But against somewhat lower-ranked teams AZ can also struggle with themselves, losing costly points against FC Volendam, RKC Waalwijk and Excelsior. And FC Groningen was also a feared opponent in that list, especially within the busy schedule of recent weeks.
Despite their penultimate place and the mental tick that AZ dealt with the quick counter goal, it was Groningen that seemed to be increasingly in control of the game after the opening stages. With some dangerous shots from distance, such as a shot by Elvis Manu against the outside of the post.
After halftime, AZ’s soccer did not improve, although Sven Mijnans had the biggest chance to decide the game early in front of Verrips.
Just like against Feyenoord a week ago, the play shown by FC Groningen offered enough starting points to face the last nine games with confidence. Although, as number seventeen, the northerners still occupy a relegation spot, of the top five teams, they face only Ajax.
Watch the post-match reactions here:
Jansen: ‘When you have to throw forces around, not surprising that it affects game’
And the same Ajax plays Feyenoord next week, but with matches against Lazio and FC Twente, the Alkmaarers’ schedule does not lie either.