AZ stays in race for third place with easy win at NEC
Watch the summary of NEC – AZ
AZ is assured of European soccer next season through a simple win over NEC. Pascal Jansen’s team won 3-0 in Nijmegen, placing them at least fourth in the Eredivisie, earning placement for the preliminary rounds of the Conference League.
The Alkmaarders still have a chance of third place and the accompanying ticket for the Europa League playoffs. Then they must win next week at home against PSV and hope for Ajax’s defeat at FC Twente.
Bringing a lot
Watch an interview with AZ coach Jansen after the game against NEC below:
AZ coach Jansen wants third place: ‘That’s what we’re going for’
After a weak initial phase, AZ eventually won easily and can look forward to the final round of games. “PSV must take at least a point. Ajax can still get over PSV and we can still get over Ajax. So that will be an exciting weekend next week.”
No AZ supporters were welcome at the Goffert Stadium. The mayor of Nijmegen feared a repeat of the riots at the Alkmaar side’s Conference League match against West Ham United last Thursday.
In protest against that decision, some of the NEC supporters also left their box empty for the first fifteen minutes.
Possibly the European elimination was still playing in the minds of AZ, because it started the match badly. As early as the second minute, Pedro Marques, who replaced Landry Dimata in the starting line-up, had a great chance for NEC. The Spaniard headed wide in front of goal.
It was immediately the last big chance for the home team, which played mostly on its own half for the rest of the match.
AZ patiently looked for an opening in the NEC defense and after just under half an hour it was found by Jesper Karlsson. From the head of the sixteen-meter area he placed the ball in the corner.
The Swede shot again in similar fashion, but that goal was disallowed for offside on VAR instructions. Moments later, AZ made it 2-0. After a one-two with Vangelis Pavlidis, Jordy Clasie tipped the ball over NEC goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
The second half produced the same match pattern as the first, including a goal for Karlsson. This time he scored with a volley, again on a pass from Pavlidis. AZ played out the game at ease, while NEC was unable to make anything of itself.
The Nijmegen side’s only achievement was a foul on Dirk Proper, who was initially shown only yellow, but after VAR interference was given a justified red card.
In injury time Pavlidis thought he would score another goal, but the Greek was offside and his goal was disallowed.