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Standard relief as AZ curse luck

AZ Alkmaar bemoaned their failure to take chances as they were denied victory by a late strike from visitors R. Standard de Liège, whose striker Milan Jovanović conceded the hosts "were better".

Kew Jaliens (left) challenges Standard's Milan Jovanović
Kew Jaliens (left) challenges Standard's Milan Jovanović ©Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League confrontation between AZ Alkmaar and R. Standard de Liège started slowly but ended in high drama.

Late equaliser
AZ, who took the lead shortly after the break with a clever goal by Mounir El Hamdaoui, seemed to be well in control, and the team most likely to score again. Then, out of the blue, Standard substitute Moussa Traore rifled home from close range to claim an unexpected point as both the Belgian and Dutch champions got off the mark in Group H.

Confidence returning
Brett Holman, AZ's Australian midfielder, could look on the bright side despite the obvious disappointment of conceding a late equaliser. "It was like the AZ of old tonight, we were concentrated and kept possession well," he said. "Our confidence is returning. We are inexperienced at this level, only two of our squad have played in the Champions League before, but we were the most attacking side. Ronald Koeman said at half-time just to keep going, that the chances would come. Unfortunately we didn't take more than one."

'Not happy'
Home defender Kew Jaliens added: "It wasn't so much inexperience as just bad luck. Standard hardly created any clear opportunities. But then there was a high ball into our box, an attempted clearance that didn't work out, and suddenly we've lost two points. We were the better team and deserved more, so obviously we're not happy with the end result."

Standard relieved
On the other hand, Standard forward Milan Jovanović was pleased. "Before the match I would have been happy with one point, but the match was more difficult than expected," he said. "AZ were better, they kept the ball and made the running. It was like against [the 3-2 Matchday 1 home loss to] Arsenal, we ran and they played. I hope we will do better next time."