AZ Alkmaar claimed a 2-0 UEFA Europa League Group L victory over Maccabi Haifa FC to reach the round of 32 and eliminate their opponents.
Needing at least a point to book their place in the next stage, the Eredivisie side made certain with a third win in the section thanks to Nemanja Gudelj's first-half goal and an added-time Johann Gudmundsson curler. AZ face PAOK FC in their final group game to determine who finishes top of the pile, while Maccabi bow out against FC Shakhter Karagandy.
After a tentative start to proceedings it was AZ who fashioned the first meaningful chance. Maarten Martens's 24th-minute drive was saved low to his left by Bojan Šaranov, who was called upon again just past the half-hour to repel Gudelj's free-kick from the edge of the area.
The same AZ duo were then involved in the opener eight minutes before half-time as Gudelj ghosted in unmarked at the far post to volley Martens's inswinging free-kick from the right past a helpless Šaranov. Maccabi left-back Taleb Twatha provided a useful attacking outlet for the Israeli team with some surging forward runs and his cross almost laid on an equaliser but Shimon Abuhazira failed to make contact and the ball sailed narrowly past the right post.
Rayo's misdirected curler was a sign of the visitors' attacking intent at the beginning of the second period and they could have levelled with minutes of the restart but Abuhazira blazed over with only Esteban to beat following a slip by Mattias Johansson. AZ stood firm, though, and came close to a second through Nick Viergever before Gudmundsson cut in from the right past Dekel Keinan and placed a calm finish into the bottom left-hand corner to put the result beyond doubt.
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