AZ suffers next blow with loss against Sparta, Rotterdammers now fifth
Watch the summary of AZ – Sparta Rotterdam
For the third match in a row, AZ failed to win in the Eredivisie. After a defeat at FC Twente and a draw at home against sc Heerenveen, AZ lost 1-0 to Sparta Rotterdam in Alkmaar on Saturday night.
A few weeks ago AZ was still fully engaged in the battle for the national title, but now a place among the first three seems to be getting further and further out of sight.
Against stiff Sparta, which thanks to the win has temporarily taken over fifth place from FC Twente, AZ was boss in the first quarter of an hour. Without Jesper Karlsson, the outfielder was missing due to a minor injury, the Alkmaarders pushed Sparta back and occasionally forced a few chances.
Lauritsen hits the target
Mexx Meerdink, Karlsson’s replacement, forced Sparta goalkeeper Olij into a fine save with a dangerous shot. It took a while for Sparta to come out of their shell, but as the first half progressed coach Maurice Steijn’s team did create some chances. The biggest was an immediate hit.
Koki Saito fooled Sam Beukema on the left side of the pitch, after which the Japanese played a superb cross into the head of Tobias Lauritsen. The headstrong Norwegian was also completely free, making it a breeze for him to open the scoring.
After halftime, Sparta remained a tough opponent for the home team and AZ even escaped. Lauritsen was at the end of a sharp counter and shot hard at the cross. Because the Norwegian had not dealt the final blow, AZ could continue to believe in a good result for a long time.
That resulted in an exciting final phase with quite a few chances. Jens Odgaard had two good chances to equalize. First goalkeeper Olij stood in the way and a little later the Dane headed on the crossbar from a few meters distance. A few minutes later Yuki Sugawara hit the post.
Defeat hits hard for AZ, Sparta goalkeeper Olij happy with win over top club
AZ then pumped the ball into the enemy sixteen a few more times, but no more goals were scored. Thanks to PSV’s 4-0 victory over Excelsior, the Eindhoven players have five points more than AZ. Number three Ajax has two points more, but has played one match less.