AZ beat RKC Waalwijk after poor gamePublished on 25 maart 12, 00:00
AZ had not come to terms yet with the semi-final Dutch Cup defeat after extra time against Heracles Almelo: Jozy Altidore and Simon Poulsen were not fit enough to start against RKC Waalwijk.
Thursdays defeat had not only left its marks physically but also mentally. AZ, who put in a commanding display nearly every single match, lacked passion and spirit and were robbed of the ball early. RKC, lying eighth in the table, did not have to offer much either as neither team managed to create any meaningful chances in the first half.
Verbeek made one half-time change, with Altidore replacing Charlison Benschop and the substitution paid off almost immediately. Altidore controlled a long ball with his chest. RKC-goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet left his line but was too late to deny the American striker and the ball fell to Gudmundsson who tapped it into the empty net: 1-0.
After having taken a 1-0 lead, AZ kept men behind the ball and this tactical plan proved to be effective and efficient, as the visitors hardly threatened the AZ goal. Ragnar Klavan and Altidore came close to doubling AZ´s lead from a Maarten Martens corner, and at the other end Evander Sno brought out a fine save from Esteban.
AZ had one opportunity to virtually wrap up the game when Adam Maher played in Altidore, but AZ´s striker up front was denied by keeper Zoet. AZ custodian Esteban kept his 14th clean sheet from 27 games.
Following the narrow 1-0 victory over RKC Waalwijk, AZ have extended their lead over rivals FC Twente and PSV to four and five points respectively. FC Twente were held to a 1-1 draw by ADO Den Haag, while PSV suffered a 2-0 defeat at
AZ RKC Waalwijk 1-0 (0-0)
AZ line-up: Esteban; Dirk Marcellis, Niklas Moisander, Nick Viergever, Ragnar Klavan (81. Simon Poulsen); Adam Maher, Rasmus Elm, Maarten Martens (86. Erik Falkenburg); Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Charlison Benschop (46. Jozy Altidore), Brett Holman.
RKC Waalwijk line-up: Jeroen Zoet; Cuco Martina, Guy Ramos, Henrico Drost, Ard van Peppen; Sander Duits (58. Adil Auassar), Evander Sno, Robert Braber, Aaron Meijers (71. Furkan Alakmak); Mitchell Schet, Krisztián Németh.
Goals: 50. Gudmundsson 1-0.
Sent off: -
Referee: Jack van Hulten
Photos: Ed van de Pol / www.edvandepol.nl