Utrecht have qualified for the Europa League after overturning a 3-0 deficit against AZ before triumphing on penalties.

Leading 3-0 from the first leg, AZ seemed to be heading for the final European spot, but John van den Brom’s side failed to turn up at the Stadion Galgenwaard and were punished by Utrecht.

In the twelfth minute, Utrecht took the lead through Willem Janssen who headed into the net from close range after Zakaria Labyad smashed a free-kick against the post. Before the half-hour mark, it was 2-0 as Tim Krul failed to hold onto Yassin Ayoub’s shot and Sebastien Haller tapped the ball into the net.

AZ failed to register a single shot at goal in the first half and things went from bad to worse in the second half as Derrick Luckassen was shown a straight red for a last-man challenge on Gyrano Kerk. Needing only one more goal to level the tie, Utrecht threw everything at AZ’s defence and eventually in the 82nd minute Kerk made it 3-0 after Janssen’s header from a corner came down off the bar.

In the final minute of injury time, Utrecht were awarded a penalty and the chance to avoid extra-time. Tim Krul earned a yellow card for his protests and was lucky to not earn another for barging Haller to the ground. The French striker took the penalty, but it was poor and Krul made an easy save to take the game to an extra thirty minutes.

Neither side could find a winner so penalties were needed. Nacer Barazite was eventually the hero for the hosts as he scored the winning spot kick after misses from AZ duo Pantelis Hatzidiakos and Joris van Overeem. Utrecht will now take their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League. 

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