The year 2023 has started with a sour aftertaste for AZ. Vangelis Pavlidis opened the score in the second half, but a late goal from Mohamed Sankoh made it 1-1. As a result, AZ drops to fifth place in the ranking.

    Vangelis Pavlidis opened the score against Vitesse – Pro Shots / Paul Meima

    For AZ, the first game of 2023 started without strong holders Dani de Wit and Milos Kerkez. Both players had to serve a suspension. Their absence was offset by the debut of Djordje Mihailovic. At Vitesse, former Ajax players Mitchell Dijks and Kjell Scherpen were in the base. The first chance of the game was for Mihailovic. After a combination with Vangelis Pavlidis, the American shot wide of the target.

    Pavlidis became dangerous a minute later by intercepting a bad back pass. The Greek outplayed Scherpen and shot into the side net. After a quick multi-disk counter, Pavlidis ejects Mihailovic. He comes one-on-one with Sharpen. He can save Mihailovic’s marker. Before the break, the Alkmaarders handed out two more pinpricks. First Jens Odgaard headed just over after a heel from Jesper Karlsson. Moments later, the Swede Scherpen tested, but the goalkeeper was alert and saved.

    Text continues below the photo

    Debutant Djordje Mihailovic – Pro Shots / Paul Meima

    AZ was the better team in the first half, but that was not noticeable in the initial phase of the second half. Vitesse got the better chances. Bartosz shot Białek into the hands of Hobie Verhulst, Bialek slid a cross just wide. Hereafter, Million Manhoef was very dangerous and Verhulst kept AZ going with a good save. Just before that, Reijnders shot just wide from a distance.

    Late equaliser

    The Alkmaarders took over the initiative again and got a huge opportunity through Odgaard. Scherpen grabbed the ball after a cross from Karlsson, after which the Dane tried to head the ball over the keeper. For that Pavlidis got the fists of Scherpen against his head, but referee Jochem Kamphuis did not think it was worth a penalty. After a beautiful deep pass, Pavlidis completed the ball in one go and hit hard: 1-0. AZ seemed to win with that, until Mohamed Sankoh plunged the Alkmaarders into mourning just before time: 1-1.

    Due to the draw, AZ drops to fifth place in the Eredivisie. AZ’s next opponent is Excelsior next Wednesday in the cup tournament.

    Setup AZ: disguised; Sugawara, Hatzidiakos, Beukema, M. De Wit; Reijnders, Clasie, Mihailovic (Evjen/60); Odgaard (Bazoer/83), Pavlidis, Karlsson (Van Brederode/88)

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