BATE bulldozer ailing AZ
BATE Borisov moved to the top of UEFA Europa League Group E with a handsome 4-1 victory over struggling Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.
With just two wins from nine in the Eredivisie, AZ were looking for a confidence-boosting away win to move into pole position but were instead on the wrong end of a fine attacking performance in Belarus. Vitaly Rodionov, Artem Kontsevoy, Renan Bressan and Edgar Olekhnovich all scored for BATE, with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson hitting back in the 89th minute.
Kontsevoy gave Alkmaar goalkeeper Sergio Romero some early work to do after just 40 seconds but it was Rodionov who was first on to the scoresheet after five minutes. Bressan was the provider, finding Rodionov in the box and allowing him to nod home from 12 yards.
Romero denied Igor Shitov in the 15th minute but then blotted his copybook when he hauled down Pavel Nekhaychik to concede a penalty. Kontsevoy took the spot-kick but Romero was able to make amends with a save. Romero was by some distance AZ's most active player, called into action again twice more before the half-hour mark and saving from Bressan and Rodionov.
AZ carved something out of nothing in the 39th minute but Mauricio Jonathas headed over wastefully from close range. Pontus Wernbloom's header then clattered the Borisov crossbar as the Eredivisie side battled hard to get back into the game.
The visitors were pushed onto the back foot once again at the start of the second half, Kontsevoy tucking home Nekhaychik's cross from six yards just two minutes after the restart.
Artem Radkov offered AZ a way back in when he fouled Jonathas at a corner, though once again the striker proved wasteful as Sergey Veremko pushed the resulting penalty to safety.
There was a third penalty in the 77th minute and this time, with Bressan the taker, it was successful. Edgar Olekhnovich made it 4-0 with a 20-yard screamer nine minutes from time but there was still room for a Sigthorsson consolation in the closing moments.