Martens struck twice to fire AZ to a winPublished on 11 februari 12, 00:00
Three days after AZ´s 0-6 thrashing of ADO Den Haag, expectations in Alkmaar were sky-high. Alkmaar was a town brimming with confidence and the supporters took a win against a relegation-threatened Excelsior side for granted and wondered how many goals their favourite team would score.
The first chance of the match fell to the visitors, though, when Darren Maatsen evaded his marker Simon Poulsen with pace. His had shot was saved by Esteban and Joost Broerse forced the Costa Rican goalkeeper into making another fine save with a well-struck free-kick.
AZ then took control of the game and played a free flowing attacking style of football, moving the ball around comfortably, and Wesley de Ruiter was by far the busier goalkeeper.
AZ created plenty of chances but Rasmus Elm, Martens and Brett Holman were denied by the goalkeeper while Roy Beerens and Holman put their efforts just the wrong side of the post. AZ also hit the woodwork twice: Charlison Benschop rattled the post on the rebound and Holman struck the bar with a header.
The second half continued in the same vein, with AZ dominating proceedings. After Beerens had sent a left-foot shot across the mouth of goal, the deadlock was finally broken after 58 minutes. Martens and Holman, with a clever dummy, sliced open Excelsiors defence and the Belgian rounded De Ruiter before tapping home the first goal of the night: 1-0.
De Ruiter retrieved the ball from the back of the net for the second time only three minutes later. Benschop wiggled his way through on goal and Martens slid the ball home just to make sure: 2-0.
Leading 2-0, AZ had the game wrapped up and, four days ahead of the Europa League game at home to Anderlecht, AZ coach Gertjan Verbeek made three substitutions, bringing on Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Ragnar Klavan and Jozy Altidore.
Top of the league
AZ moved back to the top of the league following the 2-0 win over Excelsior. They have gone three points clear of PSV who will play host to De Graafschap on Sunday afternoon.
Verbeek: Could have scored more goals
We put in a fine display and deserved to win, but we could have scored more goals. Much of the first half was played at a low tempo. We upped a gear after the break and scored two goals. When we had taken a two-goal lead, we didnt take our foot off the pedal. I think attack is the best form of defence. All the players came through the game unscathed and we are looking forward to Thursdays massive game against Anderlecht, hopefully played in front of a sell-out crowd.
AZ Excelsior 2-0 (0-0)
AZ line-up: Esteban; Dirk Marcellis, Niklas Moisander, Nick Viergever, Simon Poulsen (71. Ragnar Klavan); Adam Maher, Rasmus Elm, Maarten Martens; Roy Beerens, Charlison Benschop (75. Jozy Altidore), Brett Holman (67. Johann Berg Gudmundsson).
Excelsior line-up: Wesley de Ruiter; Edwin de Graaf, Bart Schenkeveld, Leen van Steensel, Samuel Scheimann; Kevin Jansen, Roland Alberg (80. Kevin Wattamaleo), Joost Broerse; Darren Maatsen, Rangelo Janga (68. Mitchell te Vrede), Moussa Kalisse (68. Jason Oost).
Goals: 58. Martens 1-0, 60. Martens 2-0.
Sent off: -
Referee: Jack van Hulten
Photos: Ed van de Pol / www.edvandepol.nl