AZ Alkmaar will take a slender lead to Greece after beating PAS Giannina 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League tie.

luckassen goalAZ’s first competitive match of the season saw new striker Wout Weghorst start up front, while Fred Friday remained on the bench. The hosts controlled possession from the start and should have taken the lead in the first five minutes but Alireza Jahanbakhsh stabbed the ball wide with the goal gaping.

Chances continued to come and go for the home side until eventually on 36 minutes a corner was met at the back post by Derrick Luckassen and the centre back’s header found the net. It could have been 2-0 before the break but Jahanbakhsh saw a goalbound shot blocked while Joris van Overeem’s effort was tipped wide by the Greek side’s goalkeeper.

In the second half AZ continued to spread the ball around freely, but struggled to click in the final third and even the introduction of Fred Friday couldn’t inspire a second goal as Giannina held out for the 1-0 defeat.

AZ now head to Greece next week with a slender lead and will need at least one away goal to secure their place in the next round.

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