AZ Alkmaar got off to a poor start in the Europa League with a 1-1 draw against a 10-man Dundalk in the AFAS Stadion. However, the match was overshadowed by an injury suffered to midfielder Stijn Wuytens.

az-dundakAZ coach John van den Brom was keen to state that his side would not underestimate the champions of Ireland and it seemed his players were up to the task as they started the game on top. After only a minute the home side nearly led but Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s strike came back off the post.

However, as the first half wore on Dundalk began to cause the AZ back four issues and Sergio Rochet was called into action to deny David MacMillan, Dane Massey and Daryl Horgan. Just before the break, AZ thought they had found their breakthrough when Fred Friday netted on the rebound from Derrick Luckassen, but the goal was wrongly disallowed for offside.

After the break, AZ improved and chances came for the Dutch side with Ron Vlaar and Luckassen both going close. Finally, on the hour mark the goal was found with Wuytens rising to head in a long ball from Rens van Eijden. However, in challenging for the ball Wuytens collided with the Dundalk goalkeeper and immediately crashed to the ground. There was real concern on the faces of the AZ players, some of which were praying and crying as their teammate lay unconscious. The midfielder was stretchered off the pitch and thankfully AZ have since announced that he has regained consciousness and is on his way to hospital with a concussion.

When play got back underway, Dundalk were reduced to ten men with Stephen O’Donnell shown his second yellow card and AZ went looking for a goal which would kill the game off but Dabney Dos Santos and Luckassen both passed up great chances. Then in the final minute of normal time a sucker punch came with Ciaran Kilduff heading in a free kick to seal an unlikely point for the Irish side.

A draw was not the start AZ expected in the competition with tougher tests ahead against Zenit and Maccabi tel Aviv.

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