What a game it was, my God.
Average Fan died a couple of times, resurrected, died again, resurrected again... and at the end shed tears, without feeling ashamed.
We didn’t start too aggressively, the Dutch team took advantage of it and attacked heavily. In the first 15 minutes we got stuck around our penalty area. They kept on possessing the ball, Partizan’s only hope was that they can’t break the defensive wall. In the 12th minute dos Santos shot from the penalty area line, Kljajić saved. Two minutes later Dutch team had a "pinball style" attack inside our penalty area. Three of their players had an attempt to goal, all of them were blocked by our defenders. Then in the 15th minute we could finally break out. Brašanac passed the ball to Andrija Živković on the right. Živković ran up and shot, the attempt ended in a corner kick. After the kick the ball dropped to Babović, he shot, it was too wide.
In the 17th minute again the home team attacked. A cross shot came from the left, the ball rolled through between Kljajić’s hands, cardial arrest, but the ball rolls away to the other side of the penalty area, where there was no Alkmaar-player, for our great luck. It ended in a goal-kick.
In the 19th minute Alkmaar attacked again, now Brežančić shot from the left side, Kljajić caught it.
In the meantime one follows continuously the other match of Group L. At this point Bilbao was leading to 1:0 against Augsburg. Great, fantastic, if Bilbao wins over Germans, that’s the best for us, if we can also win, then even a draw is enough in the last round to qualify to the 1/16 final.
The opponent started to slow down, their big pace from the beginning was gone. For some reason we could’t make any advantage of it though... We kept on passing the ball backwards and even though we could make sometimes to the Dutch penalty area, we couldn’t make any more than a corner kick out of them. Then in the 32nd minute Alkmaar again attacked on the left. The cross was passed to Iranian player Jahanbakhsh on the right. He shot, it was too high.
It seemed that the referee didn’t like Partizan much either. There were cases - not just one or two - when a clear foul was committed against our player, but he always waved "go ahead".
In the 35th minute Brašanac got the ball in the middle. He ran up, passed to the right to Andrija Živković. Žile brought it back almost from the baseline, then crossed it to Aboubakar in the middle, but the chance was missed out.
In the 41st minute Subić ran up on the left side. He crossed it to the middle, the ball dropped to Babović. Babović shot from the goalmouth, but it was too wide. A minute later Ninković shot from the left, it was also too wide.
Partizan sped up for the second part of the first half. We attacked, we had attempts, and Babović was kicked to the ground more often at this very match than in the entire season.
A quick look in the half time to the standing of the other match: damn it, Germans equalized... It’s not good for us. Not at all. We MUST win, come on!...
The first half was broadcasted by RTS 2, then they probably thought that the nerves of Partizan fans are not broken enough, so they made some extra excitements. The second half was broadcasted by RTS 1, the problem was that at this side of the globe there’s no normal (ie. working) RTS 1-stream. All of them are blocked. Desperate search for ANY working link, finally a Croatian one popped up, but those people practically broadcasted the entire EL-round showing only pieces from all matches. Desperate search continued, finally an English stream was found, but the commentator was not much talkative there. Never mind. It will be fine.
At the beginning of the second half, in the 48th minute Alkmaar took the lead. Brežančić crossed from the left side, dos Santos got it in the middle and shot between two Partizan-defenders, right into the net. 1:0
No. Just... no. It’s death. It’s impossible. It can’t be.
Partizan collapsed from this goal. The speed of the previous half’s last minutes was gone, we were again that slow, cautious, backward-passing team as we were in the beginning. The Dutch team heartened up, they again possessed the ball more and attacked, too. Finally, in the 55th minute, we could have an attempt. After a corner-kick Ćirković headed the ball to the goal, the goalkeeper had a great save.
In the 62nd minute we lost the ball, Janssen got it. He ran up all alone, shot, Kljajić saved. Two minutes later a distant Dutch shot came from the middle, Kljajić was at his place.
In the 65th minute Subić got the ball from the left. He passed it ahead to Ninković. Ninković crossed it to Aboubakar in the middle, and Aboubakar headed it right into the net, pefrectly. GOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAL, yesssss, that’s it, we equalized! 1:1!
A quick look at the other match. Goddamn it, the Germans are leading to 2:1... Come on, boys, come on, push it, push it hard, as hard as you can!...
In the 68th minute a Dutch attack came from the right, but Kljajić rolled down the shutters. A minute later Henrikssen had an attempt from the middle, the Bulgarian Sergio Ramos, aka Bandalovski
Bojinov said it once, and who am I to disagree with him?...
touched it, the attempt ended in a corner kick. The kick was headed downfield by Ćirković.
In the 70th minute, after another Alkmaar-corner kick we started a counter-attack. Aboubakar possessed the ball, he passed it to Ninković. Ninković ran up and with a delicate movement he passed the ball above the goalkeeper, towards the goal line... and it was too wide.
From this the Dutch team immediately ran up for a counter-attack. Janssen had almost the very same scene with Kljajić as Ninković with Coutinho, just Ćirković threw himself into the way (then stayed on the ground).
In the 76th minute we again started a counter-attack after an Alkmaar-corner kick, but we lost the ball. The Dutch team attacked back, arriving on the right, but Kljajić inactivated the shot.
Dutch players turned into more and more rough, the referee either whistled it off, or not. Time passed... We were in the 83rd minute, Ortiz had a distant shot, it was too wide.
In the 86th minute Alkmaar got another corner kick. Kljajić punched it out, but Luckassen headed it back to the penalty area, making a goalmouth scramble. The ball dropped again to Luckassen, the Dutch player was on a huge offside, but no flag up. Luckassen shot, it was too wide. A minute later we attacked, Aboubakar passed the ball to Andrija Živković. Živković passed it ahead to Vulićević, he crossed from the right, the goalkeeper caught the ball.
A quick look at the "neighbourhood": Bilbao took back the lead!!! If we can keep this draw, we can make it!!!
And then came the 89th minute.
Aboubakar got a cross on the left side. He ran up to the Dutch penalty area and crossed to Andrija Živković in the middle. Živković had nothing else to do than shooting it into the net.
He did it.
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL, a fantastic GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!
Three miuntes of extra time were left.
Life’s longest three minutes.
But then they ended. Final whistle. Time to celebrate.
For Average Fan there was still a short, but nerve-racking part left, because the Augsburg - Athletic Bilbao game hadn’t ended at this point. Bilbao was leading to 2:3, may the Heavenly Forces give us to stay like this for the end.
If there’s any video, I’ll update the post.
Venue: AFAS AZ Stadium, Alkmaar, The Netherlands
Number of spectators: 15 000
Referee: Harald Lechner (assistants: Andreas Staudinger, Andreas Heidenreich - 4th assistant: Maximilian Kolbitsch - goal line assistants: Alexander Harkam, Julian Weinberger) - AUT
AZ Alkmaar: Coutinho - Johansson, Gouweleeuw, Luckassen, Brežančić - van Overeem (Tanković, 75.), Ortiz (Hupperts, 88.), dos Santos - Henriksen - Janssen, Jahanbakhsh (Muhren, 80.)
Head coach: John van den Brom
FK Partizan: Kljajić - Vulićević, Bandalovski, Ćirković, Subić - Jevtović, Babović (S. Ilić, 75.) - A. Živković (Grbić, 90+2.), Brašanac, Ninković (Bojinov, 84.) - Aboubakar
Head coach: Ljubinko Drulović
Goal scorers: dos Santos (48.), Aboubakar (65.), A. Živković (89.)
Yellow card: Bandalovski (26.), Luckassen (45.), A. Živković (90.)
Current standing of Group L:
1. Athletic Bilbao 12 points
2. Partizan 9 points
3. Augsburg 6 points
4. AZ Alkmaar 3 points