EUROPA LEAGUE: AZ success as Feyenoord falter

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THURSDAY 22ND AUGUST

QUALIFYING PLAY-OFF – FIRST LEG

KUBAN KRASNODAR 1-0 FEYENOORD

Ronald Koeman’s Feyenoord suffered their fourth successive defeat this season at the hands of Russian Premier League side Kuban Krasnodar. Senegalese striker Ibrahima Baldé got the only goal of the game on the hour mark.

If it were not for goalkeeper Erwin Mulder, Koeman’s side could have been returning to Rotterdam virtually out of the competition. The Russians left with just the 1-0 win but it was well-deserved after yet another lacklustre display from Feyenoord.

Goalscorer Baldé was lively throughout the game and had glorious chance to give the Russians the lead after just three minutes, but the Senegalese striker fired narrowly wide from just inside the area, much to Mulder’s relief.

Feyenoord failed to find the net and even the usually consistent Italian hitman Graziano Pellè had yet another off-night wasting his side’s best chance of the game. Pellè flicked a shot onto the post and midfielder Lex Immers over hit the rebound and blasted it over Aleksandr Belenov‘s crossbar.

Into the second period, the Russians looked much more likely to score and continued to press for the opening goal but this did not materialised until the 60th minute. Baldé was in the right place at the right time to fire home. A long ball by Ángel Dealbert was knocked down by Ivelin Popov into the striker’s path to force the ball past Mulder.

De Kuip hosts the return leg next Thursday, with Ronald Koeman knowing that his team still with a good chance to reach the group stages. However, he will also understand that their performance needs to improve quickly otherwise the season looks to be a write-off, even at this early stage.

Atromitos FC - AZ

ATROMITOS 1-3 AZ ALKMAAR

AZ Alkmaar look likely to advance to the group stage of the competition after an excellent 3-1 in Greece against Atromitos.

After a uneventful goalless first-half, Jóhann Gudmundsson helped himself to a brace with Aron Jóhannsson scoring in the middle of the goals to give the Dutch side the win.

Gudmundsson opened the scoring on 50 minutes, with the newly American striker Jóhannsson grabbing the second on 73 minutes. AZ looked comfortable even though the Greeks scored a 76th minute spot-kick from 31-year-old striker Dimitris Papadopoulos. However, Gudmundsson added a third in stoppage time to give AZ the two-goal cushion to return home tomorrow morning.

WillBurns

Click the name above to follow Will on Twitter.

TotalDutchFootball.com    WorldFootballWeekly.com

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