AZ Alkmaar extended their unbeaten record from the start of the season with a comfortable 3-0 home victory against SC Braga.
This Group C success means the Dutch high-fliers remain undefeated after ten league and UEFA Cup matches. AZ went in front in the 37th minute through Shota Arveladze but had to wait until the closing stages to wrap things up as Danny Koevermans and Stijn Schaars both scored. AZ can now look forward with optimism to their next European assignment away to Grasshopper-Club on 2 November, the same night that SC Braga host SK Slovan Liberec.
The home side started strongly and combative midfielder Demy De Zeeuw fired wide from 20 metres in the ninth minute, before Simon Cziommer blazed over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area. In the 16th minute, Braga recorded the match's first effort on target when Maciel's shot was caught by AZ goalkeeper Joey Didulica.
Arveladze then spurned an opportunity to score when he headed wide from 12 metres and it was Braga who threatened next as Wender also missed the target. Didulica produced an excellent save to tip striker Marcel's effort around the post, before the home side finally took the lead as the in-form Arveladze, the AZ captain, slotted into the bottom corner of the net from 12 metres.
After the interval, Moussa Dembélé had the chance to double AZ's advantage but fired straight at Braga goalkeeper Paulo Santos. The Portuguese team, who had needed to replace Hugo Leal with João Pinto in the first half, suffered another injury blow when Wender made way for Césinha. Things only got worse for Braga as AZ made the game safe when Dembélé's cross was converted by Koevermans for his third goal in three games. The substitute had only been on the pitch for five minutes before scoring and his contribution did not end there as he then played in Schaars seven minutes later to score from the centre of the penalty area.