MANCHESTER UNITED 4 ALKMAAR ZAANSTREEK 0
UEFA Europa League Group L
This was the final group match and I had been to all 3. To be honest, after the Astana game I would have questioned if I would have stayed the course. However, following a much improved performance against Partizan I was up for this. But then the weather kicked in, I ummed and aahed over it and eventually decided it would be better than staying in, but only just.
So after an hour’s stroll I found myself crossing the railway line and entering the Munich Tunnel at the Stretford End and taking my seat near the tunnel. I was ready.
The opponents on this wet Thursday were Alkmaar Zaanstreek, although incorrectly referred to as AZ Alkmaar just about everywhere you look. A quick look at their history showed a list of some pretty decent ex-players. Anyone a bit older will surely remember Johnny Metgod, also once of Real Madrid and Nottingham Forest, where he scored a quite brilliant free-kick vs. West Ham United , the recently deceased Fernando Ricksen, Graziano Pelle and United’s keeper for the night, Sergio Romero. My other nugget of information is their nickname, they are wonderfully called ‘The Cheeseheads’. Love it.
Both sides came out in red, the visitors dispensing of their tracksuit tops that saved and amusing spectacle and played in black. I thought the visitors were the better side in the first half, restricting their host to very little attacking wise and creating a few decent half-chances, with their left winger Idrissi in particular catching the eye.
The second half was somewhat different, this time it was the hosts left winger, Pereira, who started to rattle the opposition. A cool finish from a tight angel by Young, sweet strike number 1 from Greenwood, penalty from Mata and finally sweet strike number 2 from Greenwood all within 12 minutes early in the second half finished this game off.
Both sides progress into the draw for the next round, with United’s potential opponents including Rangers and Roma, AZ’s could be Arsenal and Inter Milan. I’m sure both will hope for an easier tie in February.
Moment of the Match: More of a general nod. After seeing the ‘mob’ that AZ had brought I expected a din, but it was United’s new singing section that were in fine voice barely stopping all night.
Match Tunes: Different Days – The Charlatans