AZ frustrated as Traore raises Standard

AZ Alkmaar 1-1 R. Standard de Liège
The Dutch champions were denied a first group-stage win when Moussa Traore struck in stoppage time to cancel out Mounir El Hamdaoui's opener.

AZ frustrated as Traore raises Standard
AZ frustrated as Traore raises Standard ©

AZ Alkmaar's hopes of a historic first UEFA Champions League win were dashed at the death at the DSB-Stadium where Moussa Traore conjured up a 91st-minute equaliser for R. Standard de Liège.

Late twist
The home side had looked set to claim three Group H points as reward for a largely dominant display, which had been capped by Mounir El Hamdaoui's rolled finish after 48 minutes. It was at the other extreme of the second half that the noisy celebrations of the Alkmaar fans were silenced, though – substitute Traore getting on the end of a hopefully punted free-kick into the AZ penalty area. The draw left both teams on one point after the first two matchdays of their debut campaigns in the UEFA Champions League.

Territorial advantage 
The first chance of note had come on the quarter-hour, Maarten Martens firing a rising shot from just outside the box that Standard keeper Sinan Bolat turned behind for a corner. The game was being played mainly in the Belgian champions' half, but despite their territorial advantage AZ created few clear openings. In contrast, the visitors posed a threat on the break when Dieudonné Mbokani's attempt was deflected narrowly wide with AZ keeper Sergio Romero stranded.

Pressure rises
Minutes later it was the hosts who almost broke the deadlock, but El Hamdaoui's header from a Gill Swerts cross was tipped over by Bolat. Moussa Dembélé then cleverly made space for a low effort which he pulled wide from 20 metres. The same Alkmaar forward also volleyed El Hamdaoui's centre over the woodwork from close range as Ronald Koeman's Dutch titleholders upped the pressure. Standard must have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle.

On target
After the restart AZ continued where they had left off, keeping Standard on the back foot, and the results were immediate. Brett Holman released El Hamdaoui inside the area, and last season's Eredivisie top scorer rolled the ball past Bolat and into the corner of the net. Moments later he nearly doubled his tally, yet this time Standard's keeper prevailed in the one-on-one.

Standard response
AZ were now in full flow, combining effectively, and constantly looking to carve out opportunities. In response, Standard made two substitutions in quick succession, bringing on Landry Mulemo and Igor De Camargo for Ricardo Rocha and Mohamed Sarr, and they began to risk more in attack. This adventurous approach might have paid dividends after 68 minutes when Mehdi Carcela-González's swerving drive was palmed over by Romero.

Standard's spell of greater endeavour did not last, as the game slipped back into a pattern of forceful AZ advances, which suggested the Eredivisie outfit would hold on for a famous win on their home debut in the group stage. That, however, was counting without the belated impact of visiting coach László Bölöni's third change – the introduction of Traore for Wilfried Dalmat. The former was in the right place, one minute into stoppage time, to turn in the loose ball after first Alkmaar defender Héctor Moreno, then Axel Witsel, had flicked on a free-kick pumped forward by Bolat.