AZ Alkmaar kept up their unbeaten start to Group L in the Europa League as they saw off Shakhter Karagandy 1-0 at the AFAS Stadion.

  • By Michael Bell
  • Follow Michael on Twitter

az azWith Shakhter’s eyes on their cup final on Sunday they named a depleted squad for the trip to Netherlands, and fans of AZ were expecting an easy win.

The Eredivisie leaders dominated from the start and penned the Kazakhstan side in their own half, but could not find an opening goal in the first half.

Pokatilov in the Karagandy goal kept out efforts from Maarten Martens, Nemanja Gudelj, and Aron Johannsson, while at the other end Esteban didn’t have a shot to deal with.

Finally after 55 minutes Celso Ortiz’s shot from outside the box squirmed through Pokatilov’s hands and AZ had a 1-0 lead.

Roy Beerens then had the chance to make it 2-0 a minute later but his chip over Pokatilov was cleared off the line by Vasijevic.

Shakhter started to venture forward towards the end, but defender Jan Wuytens was a rock at the back for the home side, and snuffed out any danger.

The win puts AZ joint top of the group after leaders PAOK earned a 0-0 draw with Maccabi Haifa in Israel. AZ sit six points ahead of third and fourth place, and a point in their final two games will guarantee their participation in the next round.

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