Alkmaar Zaanstreek, better known as AZ Alkmaar or simply AZ, plays in the Eredivisie, the highest professional football league in the Netherlands and hosts home matches at the AFAS Stadion. Their games – including tonight’s – are being played on an artificial astroturf pitch, the latter described by Ole as one of the worst he has ever seen.
This was the first competitive meeting between AZ Alkmaar and Manchester United.
United had been unbeaten in their last five Europa League away games, while AZ on the other hand had only won one of their previous six home games in the Europa League. However, they are third in the Eredivisie behind Ajax and PSV Eindhoven and have lost only one game this season –their artificial pitch evidently working in their favour.
As a game, it was sadly uninspiring with United failing to really impress or make a positive contribution, not too dissimilar from recent United displays. United have failed to have a single shot on target in a UEFA Europa League game for the first time in their history.
In my view Victor Lindelof was the steadiest performer and one of the few who mastered the plastic surface with his passing. Solskjaer had made nine changes from the side that drew with Arsenal with youngsters Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams and Angel Gomes starting. The consolation is thus that United’s young team most of whom were playing European football for the first time, on a difficult surface, away from home, comfortably secured a point at AZ Alkmaar.
The sad reminder is that United have still not won an away game since that magical victory over Paris Saint Germain at the start of March.
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