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By Berend Scholten at Alkmaarderhout Stadium
AZ Alkmaar came from behind to reach the UEFA Cup last 16 and destroy TSV Alemannia Aachen's dreams of winning the trophy from the German second division.
The first leg having been scoreless, Aachen led through venerable Dutch striker Erik Meijer's away goal at half-time, but Barry van Galen struck after the break and following the dismissal of visiting defender Thomas Stehle, Alkmaar captain Joris Mathijsen claimed the winner eleven minutes from the end.
Eredivisie contenders Alkmaar were without captain and playmaker Danny Landzaat due to an ankle injury, and it was Aachen who took the early initiative, Meijer's dangerous header forcing Henk Timmer to save. Alkmaar gradually began to move forward, Aachen goalkeeper Stefan Straub punching away Van Galen's shot on 17 minutes.
However, Aachen were still creating chances, and just after Timmer had stopped Frank Paulus's long-range effort on the half hour, the 2. Bundesliga team scored. A corner from Sergio Pinto was headed on by Alexander Klitzpera for Meijer to convert from point-blank.
With his side still trailing 12 minutes into the second period, Alkmaar coach Co Adriaanse introduced Tarik Sektioui and Robin Nelisse for Stein Huysegems and Adil Ramzi. Within four minutes the scores were level, Kenneth Perez setting up Van Galen to shoot in from the edge of the box.
Aachen still led on away goals, but in the 71st minute their task became harder when Stehle picked up his second yellow card. Now Alkmaar were pressing hard, and Van Galen hit the crossbar before finally Nelisse headed back a corner for Joris Mathijsen to shoot in. The Alkmaarderhout exploded with relief, and Alkmaar can now look forward to a last-16 tie against FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
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