DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Rubio Rubin and Utrecht ended 2014 on a high note, with the young American assisting on one of his team's three goals as they smashed Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar.
AZ Alkmaar 0 - 3 FC Utrecht
Rubio Rubin came out on top in the battle of Holland's two great American attacking hopes, setting up Utrecht's second goal on Saturday in their three-goal road win over AZ Alkmaar.
Both Rubin and Aron Johannsson started for their respective teams, with the Utrecht man playing the first 82 minutes before being subbed off and the AZ standout going the full 90 minutes.
Utrecht struck early and often, putting the game well out of reach before the halftime whistle.
Edouard Duplan opened the scoring after just 12 minutes, rising above a crowd of defenders in the Alkmaar six-yard box to head in a free kick from Tommy Oar.
Then two minutes before the half-hour mark, Rubin cut to the right edge of the penalty area and hit Duplan with a smart pass just outside the six-hard box. Duplan spun to his left to make space around Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, and fired a low towards the far post that snuck in just past the fingertips of keeper Esteban Alvarado.
Then with eight minutes left in the half, Mark Diemers added Utrecht's third and final goal, with Kristoffer Peterson cueing up the youngster for a 25-yard blast that unstoppably sailed into the upper left corner.
AZ did fix the leaks in the defense after the break and prevent any further damage, but were unable to pose any threat to a stout Utrecht defense determined to earn their first shut-out win since late-September.
The result sends both teams into the three-week holiday break well within reach of landing a spot in the spring's playoff for the league's European spots.
AZ are in sixth on 28 points, while Utrecht some more work to do, with their 23 points bringing them to ninth place, three points out of the playoff.
Johannsson and his teammates will return to action on January 17 with a visit from Dordrecht while Rubin and Utrecht next host Heerenveen one day later.
Charles Kazlauskas netted his first goal of the season for Helmond Sport, however it was not enough to overcome a porous defensive performance by the team in their 4-3 home loss to Volendam.
Dion Watson made his first appearance in more than two months, coming on as a late substitute for Fortuna Sittard in their 0-0 road draw at VVV Venlo.