DAVID SMITH - Monday, March 12, 2012
Jozy Altidore and Alkmaar extended a narrow lead atop the Eredivisie with a win over De Graafschap while Charles Kazlauskas had a short evening in Helmond's victory over his former team FC Oss.
AZ Alkmaar 2 - 0 De Graafschap
Jozy Altidore maintained his spot in Alkmaar's starting eleven, playing just over an hour as they further secured their first-place position on top of the Eredivisie standings.
AZ opened the scoring in highlight-reel fashion in the 49th minute, with Swedish international Rasmus Elm teeing up a corner from the left side, which he curled around the face of goal and just inside the far post for rare straight corner kick goal.
The hosts were perhaps lucky to hold onto the lead amidst a number of chances by De Graafschap, and needed until injury time to finally make the win certain as Erik Falkenburg netted his third goal in four games as he connected with a cross from Roy Beerens and slammed it in off the crossbar.
Losses by both Twente and PSV Eindhoven now give Alkmaar a three-point lead in first ahead of Ajax.
Their breakneck schedule continues with a Thursday visit to Italy to play Udinese in the second leg of their Europa Leg knockout series, then return to their home country to host 13th-place NAC Breda on Sunday.
Helmond Sport 2 - 1 FC Oss
Charles Kazlauskas was in the starting lineup for Alkmaar on Friday evening, however saw his evening cut short with an apparent injury just before the half-hour as the team ran their unbeaten streak to ten games with a win over FC Oss.
Former Oss striker Erik Quekel was close within the first 15 minutes with a tight-angled shot from the right that was grabbed by Oss keeper Vincent Van Trier, however did prove responsible for his team's opening goal just minutes later.
Tracking down a cleared ball just inside the edge of the penalty area, he sent a high cross to the far post which Sebastian Stachnik headed down and into goal for the 1-0 lead in the 19th minute.
Kazlauskas had an early exit from the game just before the half-hour and was replaced by defender Jeffrey Altheer, however this did little to turn the advantage away from the hosts.
They doubled the lead three minutes after the halftime break, with Jop van der Linden sending in a long free kick from the right side, which rattle around in front of goal amongst a tangle of legs before Guus Joppen finally kicked it over the line.
Oss did pull one back just two minutes later after Aleksandar Stankov was pull down in the area, allowing Tim Neemans to convert from the spot, but the hosts held the scoreline, securing their third straight win.
Fifth-place Helmond now trail Den Bosch by a single point, and have the chance to move up in the standings should they manage to beat second-place Sparta Rotterdam in their next outing on Friday.