A second-half goal from Danny Koevermans handed AZ Alkmaar a 1-0 win against Grasshopper-Club but was not enough to seal top spot in UEFA Cup Group D as Middlesbrough FC also won.
Energetic Van Galen
Koevermans kept his cool late on to ensure Grasshoppers bow out of the competition after losing all four group games. The Dutch side's goalscorer could have actually broken the deadlock on just seven minutes when 35-year-old midfielder Barry van Galen made an incisive run down the left and crossed to the near post, but Koevermans was unable to turn the ball in.
The Swiss side's defensive midfield player Roland Schwegler was helped off in a daze after colliding with AZ goalkeeper Henk Timmer on 16 minutes. His replacement, Veroljub Salatic, took just seconds to make his presence felt, swivelling to fire a low shot that Timmer reacted well to save with his right foot.
Even though his side had no chance of going through, visiting coach Hanspeter Latour picked a strong lineup, and they gradually gained the initiative. The best chance of the first half fell to Grasshoppers' Michel Renggli in the 35th minute after Antonio played him in with a delicious disguised pass from the left flank, but Timmer went quickly down to his left to save.
Two minutes before the break AZ's Dutch international Denny Landzaat stung Coltorti's hands with a low drive from the edge of the area, and 60 seconds later Timmer was called into action at the other end to tip behind an Antonio free-kick. The impressive Antonio went even closer on 55 minutes, rattling the crossbar with a 30 metre free-kick.
The breakthrough finally came in the 70th minute, when goalkeeper Fabio Coltorti came out for and missed a long ball, and full-back Kew Jaliens squared for Koevermans to tap into the empty net.