AZ Alkmaar win UEFA Youth League after storming through knockout rounds
GENEVA (AP) — Unheralded Dutch club AZ Alkmaar is a European champion for the first time after outclassing Hajduk Split 5-0 in the UEFA Youth League final on Monday.
AZ earned Europe's premier youth title with another dominating win in the knockout rounds: Real Madrid was previously beaten 4-0, Barcelona by 3-0 and Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0.
A penalty converted in the 45th minute by 17-year-old Ghanaian winger Jayden Addai rewarded AZ for being the most ambitious team in the first half.
Three goals in a nine-minute spell from the 70th sealed the title. Ernest Poku slotted a pair of right-foot shots. Substitute Mexx Meerdink then also scored twice.
The final paired two clubs whose men's teams are currently ranked No. 37 and No. 153 by UEFA for results in European competitions over the past five seasons.
Hajduk also eliminated a series of favored opponents from wealthy clubs -- Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan – to reach a first European final for the Croatian club.
About 4,000 Hajduk fans filled one noisy end of Stade de Geneve, setting off loud fireworks and red flares.
AZ made its reputation in Europe reaching the UEFA Cup final in 1981, losing to Ipswich. It will play next month in the semifinals of the Europa Conference League, against West Ham.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
- Russian youth teams reinstated to UEFA competitions
- Thursday in Europe: Ajax and Marseille in thriller, Liverpool fight back
- Brighton relish 'incredible' rise from exile to Europa League
- The Best Awards: FIFA reveals nominees for 2023 honors
- EA Sports FC 24 ratings: Mbappe, Putellas among leaders as Messi, CR7 fall