AZ Alkmaar boosted their hopes of qualification for the UEFA Cup Round of 32 after a late goal by Moussa Dembélé earned a narrow victory against Larissa FC.
Striker Dembélé scored 13 minutes from time to give Louis van Gaal's side three points which keep them in third place in Group A, two behind leaders Everton FC and one adrift of FC Zenit St. Petersburg. It was also a win that ended Larissa's chances as they fell to their third defeat and finished the match with ten men following a red card for Elias Kotsios.
AZ began the game positively with midfielder Kemy Agustien striking the bar with a cross-shot before the Eredivisie team had long-range attempts from Sébastien Pocognoli and Simon Cziommer saved smartly by goalkeeper Stefanos Kotsolis. Meanwhile his opposite number, Boy Waterman, had to be alert to keep out a goal-bound Georgios Fotakis header on the half-hour. That stop came moments before the Netherlands Under-21 goalkeeper was forced off injured and replaced by Sergio Romero.
The Dutch hosts would have a Cziommer goal disallowed before the same pattern continued in the second period, as Pocognoli and Demy de Zeeuw tested Kotsolis with strikes from distance. However, the pressure finally told on the Greek outfit when Dembélé drilled in a left-footed shot from the edge of the box.
Larissa struggled to muster a response and their frustration told when Kotsios failed to keep his composure after a challenge with Pocognoli six minutes from time and, previously booked, he was shown a red card. AZ substitute Julian Jenner had an opportunity to register a late second but saw his effort parried by Kotsolis. No matter: his side move confidently into their next game away to 1. FC Nürnberg on 5 December.