AZ crash to a big defeat at FC Utrecht

Published on 19 februari 12, 00:00
UTRECHT- AZ crashed to a 3-0 defeat at FC Utrecht on Sunday afternoon. Gertjan Verbeek´s team were outclassed by FC Utrecht at Galgenwaard Stadium in the wake of their convincing win over Anderlecht on Thursday. Alexander Gerndt struck twice and Edouard Duplan added a third goal for the hosts, who fully deserved to win.

Ragnar Klavan replaced Nick Viergever as AZ started the game nervously. They soon lost control, when Gerndt and his strike partner Demouge threatened the AZ goal. The Swedish striker sent out an early warning when he had a free kick saved by goalkeeper Esteban.

The deadlock was broken after fifteen minutes. Niklas Moisander was given his marching orders for pulling down Nana Asare in the box. The referee pointed at the spot and Gerndt stepped up to convert the resulting penalty.

AZ were down to ten men after their captain had been sent off. Rasmus Elm took his place at the heart of defence. Trailing by one goal, the visitors lost composure and Gerndt doubled FC Utrecht’s lead with a low finish, capitalising on a poor clearance.

Gertjan Verbeek brought on defender Nick Viergever for forward Brett Holman. Charlison Benschop sent a weak header straight at the keeper and Elm’s free-kick landed on the roof of the net. The match was virtually over as a contest four minutes from half-time, as things went from bad to worse for the Alkmaar outfit. Duplan, one-on-one with Esteban, fired a shot on target. The Costa Rican keeper got a hand on the ball but could not prevent the pacy Frenchman from scoring the third goal of the afternoon.

Jozy Altidore and Johann Berg Gudmundsson came on for Benschop and Maarten Martens after the break. AZ tried to restore order, hoping to limit the damage and avoid a repeat of a 5-1 thrashing in the corresponding fixture at Galgenwaard Stadium last season.

Gertjan Verbeek´s team did not concede any more goals in the second half in a low-tempo game. They had a number of chances to reduce the deficit, but Simon Poulsen and Gudmundsson (2x) were denied by keeper Roberto Fernandez, while  Altidore hit the post with a header. FC Utrecht were content with the 3-0 lead and did not put pressure on the AZ defence.

Lead cut to two points
The 3-0 defeats that AZ and PSV suffered (at the hands of FC Groningen earlier on the day) have thrown the title race in Holland wide open. AZ saw their lead at the top of the Eredivisie over sc Heerenveen cut to two, over Feyenoord to four and Ajax to five points.

AZ will play host to nearest competitors sc Heerenveen next Sunday, three days after the Europa League round of 32 second leg at Anderlecht in Brussels. Moisander will miss the match at the AFAS Stadion through suspension.

Verbeek: 'We were outclassed'

"We were outclassed in the first half", admitted Verbeek at the post-match conference. "But I won’t belittle FC Utrecht’s performance. We started the match sloppily and only got what we deserved. We could not turn things around and FC Utrecht fully deserved their win. We substitutes two players at half-time. We couldn’t replace the entire team could we?

FC Utrecht – AZ 3-0 (3-0)

FC Utrecht line-up: Roberto Fernandez; Gévero Markiet, Alje Schut (56. Mike van der Hoorn), Jan Wuytens, Dave Bulthuis; Edouard Duplan, Johan Martensson (72. Cedric van der Gun), Anouar Kali, Nana Asare; Frank Demouge (86. Lars Veldwijk), Alexander Gerndt.
AZ line-up: Esteban; Dirk Marcellis, Niklas Moisander, Ragnar Klavan, Simon Poulsen; Adam Maher, Rasmus Elm, Maarten Martens (46. Johann Berg Gudmundsson); Roy Beerens, Charlison Benschop (46. Jozy Altidore), Brett Holman (24. Nick Viergever).

Goals: 15. Gerndt 1-0 (penalty), 21. Gerndt 2-0, 41. Duplan 3-0.
Booked: Demouge, Van der Hoorn (FC Utrecht), Marcellis, Elm (AZ).
Sent off: Moisander (14th minute)
Referee: Pol van Boekel
Attendance: 19.500