CELTIC’S Europa League play-off rivals AZ Alkmaar suffered a massive setback when they slumped to defeat on the opening day of the Eredivisie season.

The Dutch outfit toppled to a 1-0 defeat away to unfancied RKC Waalwijk with Michiel Kramer hitting the points-clincher just before the interval.

It was the worst preparation last season’s runners-up could have received before their trip to Parkhead for the first leg on Wednesday ahead of the return a week on Thursday which has a 7.15pm kick-off.

In-demand captain Teun Koopmeiners was dumped onto the substitutes’ bench as he is linked with moves away from the club with Arsenal, :eeds United and Roma among his admirers. The decision backfired on manager Pascal Jansen who brought on the midfielder in the 60th minute, but the game was already slipping away by that stage, according to the Sunday Mail report.

Triumphant Waalwijk only escaped last term’s relegation play-offs by virtue of goal difference and would have been relegated in 2019/20 had the season not been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report on Celtic v Hearts this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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