AZ stay top of the table

Published on 11 maart 12, 00:00
DOETINCHEM- AZ stay top of the table after a 0-2 win over De Graafschap on Sunday afternoon, thanks to second-half goals from Rasmus Elm and Erik Falkenburg. The Eredivisie leaders took full advantage, winning their match, while nearest competitors  PSV, FC Twente and Feyenoord dropped valuable points.

It was a hard-fought victory, as AZ found it hard to create chances against a well-organised De Graafschap team, while the condition of the pitch in Doetinchem left much to be desired. Rydell Poepon headed wide before AZ started to take control. Gert Jan Verbeek´s team, without Maarten Martens, who was ruled out with an upper leg injury, enjoyed the bulk of possession.

Elm opened the scoring from a set piece four minutes after the restart, not for the first time this season. The Swede showed another piece of magic when he scored directly from an inswinging corner that went into the top corner of the net beyond keeper Yves De Winter’s grasp. The hosts responded well and AZ were lucky not to concede an equaliser. Michael de Leeuw headed past the post, Gil Vermouth missed the goal by inches and Soufian El Hassnaoui brought out a save from Esteban.

AZ put the result beyond doubt in the second minute of added time when Roy Beerens sent in an inviting cross towards the far post for Falkenburg to tap home from close range: 2-0. It was the midfielder’s third finish in as many matches.

Following their 0-2 win, AZ extended their lead over PSV, FC Twente and Feyenoord, who all dropped points. They have a three-point lead over second-placed Ajax, who earned a 3-0 home win over RKC Waalwijk. AZ will travel to Italy on Thursday to face Udinese, while they play host to NAC Breda on Sunday.

“We can look back with satisfaction at an eventful week”, said Gertjan Verbeek at the post-match conference. “We didn’t put in a convincing display against De Graafschap today, though. We dominated the game but couldn’t create many chances. But Rasmus Elm broke the deadlock with a trademark goal. And Erik Falkenburg was again on target, when he got at the end of a well-worked move.”

De Graafschap line-up: Yves De Winter; Muslu Nalbantoglu, Vito Wormgoor, Jan-Paul Saeijs, Jochem Jansen; Gil Vermouth (84. Anco Jansen), Rogier Meijer, Michael De Leeuw, Gregor Breinburg (71. Nenad Sreckovic); Rydell Poepon (55. Jordan Garcia Calvete), Soufian El Hassnaoui.
AZ line-up: Esteban; Dirk Marcellis, Niklas Moisander, Ragnar Klavan, Simon Poulsen; Adam Maher, Rasmus Elm (79. Etiënne Reijnen), Erik Falkenburg; Roy Beerens, Jozy Altidore (66. Ruud Boymans), Brett Holman (61. Johann Berg Gudmundsson).

Goals: 49. Elm 0-1, 90+2. Falkenburg 0-2.
Booked: Moisander, Beerens.
Sent off: -
Referee: Pieter Vink.
Attendance: 12.145