AZ give away a 3-0 lead and start with a loss in Bosnia
AZ let a 3-0 lead slip in the first match of their UEFA Conference League campaign against Zrinjski Mostar. Last season's semi-finalists lost 4-3 in Bosnia, conceding four goals in the second half. AZ goalkeeper Mathew Ryan will take much blame for the loss.
Myron Van Brederode put AZ ahead in the tenth minute. The attacker was left unmarked at the far post after a good cross from the Swede Mayckel Lahdo. The Bosnian's champions defence did not look good for the 2-0 either. Sven Mijnans found the net on the rebound after a header by Dani de Wit. It was 3-0 before halftime as De Wit scored on the turn.
AZ seemed to be entirely in control. Even after Ryan made a mistake from a direct free kick taken by Zvonimir Kozulj from far away, the club from Alkmaar did not seem too worried about Bosnia's tenth-best team.
Vangelis Pavlidis could have brought the difference back to three goals, but the striker hit the post. Shortly after that, a failed cross by Mostar player Josip Corluka found its way into the goal in spectacular fashion. It looked like Ryan could have gotten to the ball if he had jumped right. With 20 minutes to play, the match was tied after a goal from distance by Aldin Hrvanovic. The Bosnian celebrated it by taking his shirt off.
The joy at Zrinjski Mostar, a former Luka Modric club, became even more prominent. Kozulj headed home a rebound in the 81st minute. He also took his shirt off in disbelief. Pavlidis had the chance for an equalizer, but he headed wide.
AZ has made a bad start to their attempt to replicate last season's success. West Ham knocked them out in the semi-final at that time. Pascal Jansen's side will also have to face Aston Villa and Legia Warsaw as their other opponents. The Polish club will travel to Alkmaar in two weeks.
Reporting by ANP