Europa League: AZ Alkmaar beat PAOK Salonika 2-0 in Group L
AZ Alkmaar beat Maccabi Haifa 2-0 at the AFAS Stadion to keep pace with PAOK Salonika in Europa League Group L.
Last Updated: 28/11/13 8:10pm
AZ Alkmaar claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Maccabi Haifa at the AFAS Stadion to keep pace with PAOK Salonika in Europa League Group L.
PAOK had moved on to 11 points after winning away at Shakhter Karagandy earlier on Thursday evening but Gertjan Verbeek's side moved level with the Greek side as they won 2-0, courtesy of a first-half Nemanja Gudelj strike and a late second from Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
Both AZ and PAOK have now qualified for the knockout phases with their meeting in Greece next month essentially a play-off to find the winners of the group.
The game started slowly with both sides guilty of giving away a plethora of fouls in the early stages, with AZ's Maarten Martens the first player to really test either goalkeeper mid-way through the first half.
Gudelj then forced another save out of Maccabi's Bojan Saranov with a free-kick on the half-hour mark, with the Serbia Under-21 international going one better seven minutes later.
Martens crossed from the right and Gudelj flashed a left-footed effort high in to Saranov's net to put the hosts ahead.
Gudelj came close to doubling AZ's lead before the interval but fired an effort wide of the target.
The visitors started the second half brightly and, after a string of early corners, Ruben Rayo and Shimon Abuhatzira saw shots land wide of Esteban Alvarado's goal.
Shlomi Azulay was the next to come close to a leveller with just over an hour on the clock but he could not test Alvarado when picked out in the box.
That proved to be Maccabi's last chance of note as AZ came back into the game and looked to add to Gudelj's strike.
Nick Viergever and Gudmundsson both came close to making certain of the three points before the latter struck deep in to injury time to give the hosts a well-deserved win.