AZ Alkmaar are up to fifth in the table after a 3-1 victory over Vitesse Arnhem.

Both clubs have aspirations of challenging for a top three spot this season with AZ’s form improving in recent weeks, while Vitesse were going into the game on the back of defeating Feyenoord.

After a bright start, Jesper Karlsson fired AZ in front in the fifth minute after he seized on a poor clearance from Maximilian Wittek.

AZ had a second goal disallowed for offside as they pushed Vitesse back. The visitors also lost Sondre Tronstad to an early injury with Thomas Bruns replacing him.

Vitesse’s first chance came in the 32nd minute but Oussama Darfalou could only head a free-kick over the bar. Matus Bero then forced Maro Bizot into an excellent save before Lois Openda put a header wide from close range.

AZ punished those missed chances as Owen Wijndal found Myron Boadu, who had space in the box to find the net.

A minute into the second-half, Vitesse pulled one back as Timo Letschert’s clearance hit off the foot of Openda before flying past a helpless Bizot.

Pasveer prevented AZ from restoring their two goal lead straight away with an excellent save from Tijjani Reijnders.

Just after the hour-mark, Vitesse thought they had equalised when Darfalou found the net following a quick free-kick. However, the striker had strayed just offside. Vitesse were then dealt another injury blow with Riechedly Bazoer hobbling off.

In the 76th minute, Pascal Jansen switched Boadu for Ferdy Druijf and within seconds of coming on the striker tapped in Yukinari Sugawara’s cross to put AZ 3-1 up.

Vitesse wanted a penalty late on for a late challenge by Bizot but it was not given and the goalkeeper also made an excellent late save to deny Broja.

The victory puts AZ fifth and with a game in hand, while Vitesse remains third.

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