Grazer AK reached the last 32 of the UEFA Cup with a comfortable 2-0 home win against Group F leaders AZ Alkmaar.
René Aufhauser's first-half strike and Roland Kollmann's 54th-minute penalty ensured the Austrian title-holders inflicted a first group defeat on their Dutch opponents. Combined with AJ Auxerre's 2-0 victory at Rangers FC, it meant that GAK qualified alongside group winners Alkmaar and Auxerre, while Rangers, second before kick-off, missed out.
Both teams came into the game on the back of good wins in domestic competition. Aufhauser and defender Anton Ehmann, both suspended for the 5-2 success against VfB Admira Wacker Mödling, returned to the side, while the visitors again picked Henk Timmer in goal despite his injured foot.
With their needs the greater, the hosts started on the offensive. After just two minutes Croatian striker Mario Bazina hit a thunderous 25-metre volley which Timmer dived at full length to stop.
GAK dominated in midfield, but the final ball was missing, and after a while they appeared to run out of steam. Alkmaar sought to capitalise, Tarik Sektioui coming into the game on the right. On 24 minutes the Moroccan winger skipped inside but failed to hit his shot with any conviction.
GAK responded, and on the half-hour Timmer had to be at his best to deny them. Ehmann met Martin Amerhauser's left-wing corner with a towering header which the goalkeeper did well to parry, and from the follow-up, the 33-year-old used his right foot to block Bazina's low volley.
AZ's defence seemed capable of dealing with everything, yet it was a defensive slip which led to the first goal on 41 minutes. Amerhauser's low centre from the left appeared innocuous, but when Jan Kromkamp miscued his clearance, the ball fell perfectly for Aushauser to score from eleven metres.
Robin Nelisse came on for Barry van Galen as Alkmaar reverted to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation at half-time, but GAK continued to find space in front of the visitors' defence. On 48 minutes Barry Opdam survived a penalty appeal as Bazina went down under his challenge deep inside the Alkmaar area.
It was a warning the defender failed to heed, and when he got caught the wrong side of the speedy Croatian again five minutes later, the referee spotted a trip and pointed to the spot. The tireless Kollmann crowned his night's efforts by sending Timmer the wrong way with his conversion.
GAK briefly pressed for a third, Samir Muratovic testing Timmer along the ground, but with a two-goal margin here, and at Ibrox in Auxerre's favour ensuring his side's safe passage, GAK coach Walter Schachner opted for risk limitation.
Substitute Alen Škoro almost extended GAK's lead, but in the end there was no spoiling the party as GAK qualified for the next round in third place.