But the visitors were never deterred in playing by traveling with just 17 players to Napoli for the Europa League opener.
The Dutch club has more than enough genuine reason to ask for a postponment of the game with 13 of their playesr infcetd with COVID-19.
Their case is in contrast to Napoli, who had just two cases at the beginning of the month, making them not to travel for their Serie A clash against Juventus. 3-0 has been awarded against them for that after their request for postponement was turned down by the League body.
But a look at the Dutch side showed resilience as they did alot to contain the host at the Sao Paolo Stadium.
AZ Alkmaar win against in-form Napoli at Sao Paolo despite COVID-19 cases
They were able to keep their hosts at bay and took the opportunity that came their way in the seond half of the encounter.
Napoli came into the game high on confidence after defeating high-scoring Atalanta 4-1 in the Serie A on the same pitch during the weekend.
AZ Alkmaar on the other hand suffered a contrast in fortune during the weekend against VV Venlo, losing a two-goal lead in at home.
With just 17 players due to 13 positive COVID-19 cases, no one gave the Dutch side a chance against rampant Genarro Gatusso’s men. They faced the Italian giant featuring a number of youth team players and pulled off a shock by winning 1-0 in the Group F match.
Dani de Wit curled in the unexpected winner in the second half to mark a frustrating evening for the hosts, who had dominated throughout. de Wit hit a one time shot from the ball pass gotten via a one-two exchange between Jonas Svensson and Sugawara..
Although the hosts dominated with over 70 percent possession, but their clear cut chances were restricted by the disciplined dutch side.
The only clear shot from the game in the first half came from Victor Osimhen who was judged offside.
AZ also tried their luck with Jesper Karlsson’s long shot which didn’t threaten keeper Alex Meret. Fredrik Midtsjø’s shot also went off target.
Napoli’s attacks continued, and Yukinari Sugawara and keeper Marco Bizot came to the team’s rescue with good defense.
Gatusso reacts to Napoli’s loss against AZ Alkmaar
Reacting to the outcome of the game, Napoli boss, Gatusso said the team’s possession was sterile against a determined side.
The Partenopei were toothless upfront in contrast to their performance against Atalanta.
“We should not have lost a game like this. Possession is fine, but not when it’s sterile, as we tickled the opposition rather than hurt them.
“There were some good things in the first half, but after the break we were making too many predictable passes to feet, never a give and go.
“We need more vehemence and hunger, as today we didn’t do enough off the ball,” Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia after a 1-0 home defeat.
The result leaves Napoli at the bottom of their Europa League group, as Real Sociedad won 1-0 away to HNK Rijeka.