DAVID SMITH - Thursday, December 8, 2011
Jozy Altidore played the duration of Alkmaar's make-up game against Excelsior Rotterdam on Wednesday night, but was unable to spark the team to victory in a stale, scoreless draw.
The first half of the game had already been played on November 20, but had been stopped after 45 minutes due to heavy fog meaning the two teams took the field for only a single half on Wednesday.
With the scoreless first half of the game already a distant memory for both, each of the two squads found themselves essentially facing a shortened game on entirely fresh legs, and the struggling hosts came away with an impressive point against the league leaders.
Six minutes after the start - the 51st minutes in official game time - AZ were nearly reduced to ten men when Niklas Moisander flew in for a nasty tackle on Excelsior midfielder Roland Alberg, however luckily for the visitors he was only shown yellow.
Midway through the half, defender Daan Smith beat Altidore to a ball near the midfield, and seeing keeper Esteban Alvarado off his line, tried to beat the Costa Rican international with a 50-yard shot.
Alvarado recovered just in time, however, and was able to reach the ball and grab it safely just before it went over the line.
Shortly before the final whistle, AZ midfielder Adam Maher was within inches of giving his team the three points, however the hosts put all of their effort and manpower into defending their own goal, and frustrated Altidore and his teammates until the final whistle.
Alkmaar remain atop the Eredivisie, and now having played an equal number of games as the rest of the league have a four-point edge over PSV Eindhoven.
They return home to host De Graafschap Doetinchem on Saturday, then face a crucial Europa League game on Thursday against visiting Ukrainian team Metalist Kharkiv.