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    Legia Advances to Conference League Knockout Stage with a Convincing Victory over AZ Alkmaar

    Legia Warsaw secured their spot in the knockout stage of the Conference League with a 2-0 victory over AZ Alkmaar in the 6th round of the group stage. The result of Thursday’s match ensured the Warsaw-based team’s progression to the knockout phase.

    In the penultimate round, Legia only needed a draw to advance, while AZ had to win to secure a spot in the play-offs for the Conference League’s Round of 16.

    The rematch between the Polish vice-champions and AZ was highly anticipated, especially after Legia’s 0-1 loss in Alkmaar on October 5th, where Vangelis Pavlidis scored the only goal. The post-match events led to a scandal, with Legia players being confronted by security guards, preventing them from reaching their team bus. Club president Dariusz Mioduski was also involved, and players Josue and Radovan Pankov were arrested and didn’t return to Warsaw with the team, leaving the police station after several hours.

    The incident drew the attention of high-profile politicians, and UEFA initiated an investigation. However, AZ Alkmaar has not admitted responsibility, and to date, there have been no consequences for the aggressive behavior of the security guards towards Legia players. As a precaution for their fans’ safety, the Dutch club decided not to sell tickets for the away match in Warsaw.

    The match kicked off with a slight delay as Legia fans ignited numerous flares, causing smoke to fill the stadium. AZ players faced whistles whenever they had possession of the ball. Coach Kosta Runjaic’s team played cautiously, giving the initiative to their opponents. In the 21st minute, AZ’s captain Jordy Clasie had the first accurate shot from outside the penalty area, but Legia’s goalkeeper Kacper Tobiasz made a confident save.

    In the 35th minute, Josue delivered a perfect pass to Yuri Ribeiro, who scored from close range, giving Legia the desired lead. The action of the two Portuguese players brought Legia the lead they sought. Later, Pawel Wszołek crossed to Marc Gual, who failed to strike cleanly, and Rome-Jayden Owusu-Oduro easily saved his shot.

    At the beginning of the second half, the visitors threatened Legia’s goal, but Tobiasz and the defenders cleared the ball outside the penalty area. Bruno Martins Indi received a red card in the 53rd minute for a foul on Josue. Moments later, Bartosz Slisz knocked the ball after a free-kick, but Owusu-Oduro intervened effectively.

    In the 58th minute, Ribeiro set up Ernest Muci, who missed an excellent opportunity and failed to take a shot. Josue recorded his second assist in the 81st minute, delivering a perfect pass to Blaz Kramer, who headed in for a 2-0 lead. In added time, Gila Dias’ shot was blocked, and Legia had another chance from a corner kick.

    Legia won all the group stage matches at their home stadium, previously defeating Aston Villa 3-2 and Zrinjski Mostar 2-0.

    Aston Villa topped Group E with 13 points, advancing directly to the Round of 16. Legia finished second with 12 points and will participate in the play-offs for the Round of 16. AZ Alkmaar (6 points) and Zrinjski Mostar (4 points) have been eliminated from the competition.

    The draw for the group stage matchups in the Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League will take place on Monday.

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