SATURDAY 9TH AUGUST 2014
HERACLES 0 – 3 AZ ALKMAAR
Marco Van Basten’s AZ side ran out 3-0 winners over Heracles in his first match in charge of the club, but it wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline suggests, especially in the first half, but quality won out in the end.
Heracles started the match well, with a lot of crisp passing and they kept the ball well. AZ hardly had a kick of the ball in the opening ten minutes, when they did, they looked very uncomfortable and rushed in possession. This may have been down to the impressive work rate of their opposition, who were pressing well. The first chance came around in the opening minute as the home side managed to get in behind AZ, but Oussama Tannane shot over the bar. The opening exchanges were encouraging for the home side, but it was unlikely that they could play at such intensity for the entire match and that proved as AZ slowly managed to show their ability.
The front three of AZ have lots of ability and all three started to threaten the Heracles defence. Both Steven Berghuis and the new signing from Fulham, Muamer Tankovic forced saves with shots from range, while Guus Hupperts started to pose a lot of questions down the left hand side and the pressing of the front caused the home side’s defence to make several errors in their own half when in possession.
However, it was Heracles who had the better chances, a deflected effort from Thomas Bruns came very close to breaking the deadlock after good work from Linssen on the left, while the midfielder had another great chance minutes later, but he fired over when Ilias Bel Hassani picked him out on the edge of the area. The home side had a shout for a penalty as well as Bryan Linssen was clumsily taken down by Esteban, who looked shaky at times, but AZ got the decision in their favour.
The second half started in the same way as the first, with Heracles coming out of the blocks quickly, good play down their right, led to Bel Hassani getting space in the box and he came close to opening the scoring, hitting the post. The quality of the AZ front three started to show as the half wore on and two were involved in the opener. A hopeful long ball was played up to Tankovic and the clearance fell to Steven Berghuis. His low shot squirmed underneath the keeper. It was perhaps harsh on the home side, but it gave AZ confidence and they doubled their advantage just minutes later.
Wide player Guus Hupperts drifted inside, evaded a challenge and curled his shot into the top right hand corner from the edge of the area. It was a super goal to mark his debut for the club. The signing from Roda JC was a constant threat and he will become very important for Van Basten as the season progresses.
As the match progressed, Heracles still threatened, but their poor decision making in the final third meant they couldn’t get back into the match. It’s clear they will be a difficult team to play against this season. Unfortunately for them, AZ’s quality shone through in the end as forward Tankovic scored the first after Berghuis’ shot from range was pushed into his path. He was the second AZ player to score on his debut for the club and it was fitting all three attackers scored as they were excellent for the entire match. They will certainly create problems for teams this season and the return of Aron Jóhannsson will only add to the attacking threat at Marco Van Basten’s disposal.
HERACLES: Telgenkamp, Schenkeveld, Aktaou, Zomer, Te Wierik, Sibum (Cziommer 73), Bruns, Bel Hassani, Linssen, Tannane (Weghorst 69), Fledderus (Gyasi 70).
SUBS NOT USED: Castro, Paljic, Pelupessy, Engberink.
BOOKINGS: Fledderus 64.
AZ: Esteban, Johansson, Gouweleeuw, Wuytens, Ortiz, Gudelj, Hendriksen, Poulse, Berghuis, Hupperts (Haps 85), Tankovic (Rosheuvel 78).
SUBS NOT USED: Rochet, Elm, Hoedt, Haye, Luckassen.
GOALS: Berghuis 56, Hupperts 63, Tankovic 76.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Steven Berghuis (AZ Alkmaar)
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