On Thursday, September 21, 2023, Zrinjski Mostar accomplished a remarkable feat by securing a thrilling 4-3 victory over AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League. Despite being considered the underdogs, the Bosnian side, making their debut in the competition, delivered an extraordinary performance that left fans and football enthusiasts in awe.
Early Lead and AZ Alkmaar’s Equalizer:
The match began with Zrinjski taking the lead in the 23rd minute, courtesy of a powerful header by Nemanja Bilbija. However, AZ Alkmaar responded strongly, equalizing in the 40th minute with a goal from Vangelis Pavlidis. The Dutch side then surged ahead in the 50th minute when Zakaria Aboukhlal found the back of the net.
Zrinjski’s Remarkable Comeback:
The turning point of the game occurred when Zrinjski launched a stunning comeback, scoring three goals in just eight minutes. Bilbija, Mario Tičinović, and Luka Menalo were the heroes, orchestrating an incredible turnaround.
Pavlidis Pulls One Back:
Despite the mounting pressure, AZ Alkmaar managed to pull one goal back in the 81st minute through Pavlidis. However, their efforts came too late, as Zrinjski held firm to clinch the historic victory.
This unexpected outcome represents a significant upset in the tournament and greatly enhances Zrinjski’s prospects of advancing to the knockout stages of the Europa Conference League. As it stands, they lead Group J with a two-point advantage over AZ Alkmaar.
Bilbija’s Star Performance:
The standout player of the match was undoubtedly Nemanja Bilbija, who notched two goals and provided a crucial assist. The 27-year-old striker showcased his exceptional form this season, leaving an indelible mark against AZ Alkmaar.
Historic Win for Zrinjski:
Zrinjski’s victory over AZ Alkmaar is a momentous achievement for the Bosnian side. It marks their first triumph in European competition since 2009, reigniting hopes of a memorable journey in the Europa Conference League.
Looking ahead, Zrinjski will face Partizan Belgrade in their next group fixture on October 5. They aim to build upon this exceptional performance and continue their remarkable journey in the tournament.