AZ has convincingly won the second group match in the Europa League. The team of coach Arne Slot was 4-1 too strong for HNK Rijeka from Croatia on Thursday-evening in Alkmaar and is now only in the lead in group F.
Teun Koopmeiners opened the score from a penalty kick after six minutes. Albert Gudmundsson doubled the lead for the home team fifteen minutes later.
Early in the second half, Jesper Karlsson further increased the score and after an hour of play Gudmundsson made the second of the evening. Sandro Kulenovic then did something in return on behalf of Rijeka.
AZ had to do against Rijeka without the players who tested positive for the corona virus earlier this month. As a result, Myron Boadu, Ferdy Druijf, Jordy Clasie and Ron Vlaar, among others, were not available.
AZ started the group phase of the Europa League last week with a stunt at Napoli (0-1) and is now the leader in group F with six points. In the other match in this group, Napoli won 0-1 at Real Sociedad thanks to a goal by Matteo Politano, putting both the Italians and the Spaniards on three points.
Next Thursday, AZ will visit Real Sociedad in the third group match. Napoli will then play against Rijeka in Croatia.
Albert Gudmundsson was twice accurate on behalf of AZ. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Early penalty Koopmeiners leads to a big victory
In the AFAS Stadium, AZ already had the perfect opportunity to score the opening goal in the sixth minute. The ball went on spot after the profound Dani de Wit was knocked out by Darko Velkovski. Koopmeiners shot the penalty kick low through the middle.
The Alkmaarders then went on the hunt for a second goal, which fell in the twentieth minute. Fredrik Midtsjø put Gudmundsson with a brilliant pass through the middle only in front of the goalkeeper and the Icelander placed the ball in the left corner.
In the remainder of the first half, only Karlsson was close to scoring. Where his shot was turned by Ivan Nevistic before half time, he found the goal six minutes after half time. After another beautiful pass from Midtsjø, the Swede pushed the ball into the far corner.
Gudmundsson scored for the second time in the sixtieth minute. The occasional striker hit from close by a cross by Koopmeiners. More than fifteen minutes before the end, Rijeka came back to 4-1 thanks to a goal by Kulenovic, who finished coolly after a long pass from Stjepan Loncar.
Moments later, Gudmunsson missed the opportunity to score a hat-trick by shooting wide open goal. On the other hand, Kulenovic was still close to a goal in the final phase, but there was no more scored in Alkmaar. In the final phase, Maxim Gullit, the son of Ruud Gullit, and Yusuf Barasi made their debut in the AZ main force.