A last-minute Kenneth Perez penalty helped AZ Alkmaar put one foot in the quarter-finals, sealing a 3-1 victory against a lacklustre FC Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.
The visitors were forced to absorb pressure for much of the second half after Matuzalem had cancelled out Robin Nelisse's 27th-minute opener. They still managed to score twice, however, with Joris Mathijsen restoring the lead shortly after the interval before a rare counterattack by Tim de Cler was abruptly halted by Darijo Srna and Perez doubled the lead.
It completed a miserable match for the Croatian international Srna who had missed a spot-kick midway through the first half and struggled to keep tabs on De Cler. The first real chance tonight had occurred in a similar fashion on 20 minutes when the Dutch midfielder twisted inside Srna and his cross forced Jan Laštuvka to parry.
With the Czech goalkeeper worried, Alkmaar began to cross at every opportunity and took the lead from a Perez corner. Laštuvka decided not to come to collect the ball four metres out and despite pressure from Mariusz Lewandowski, Nelisse flicked the ball in.
Shakhtar could have regained parity within two minutes when Jan Kromkamp was adjudged to have pushed Brandão but Srna's spot-kick was weak and Henk Timmer saved with ease, diving to his left. He had no chance in added time, however, when Julius Aghahowa held off two defenders before squeezing the ball to Matuzalem on the edge of the penalty area and the 24-year-old's scuffed shot nestled into the bottom right-hand corner.
The home side began the second half brightly but when Alkmaar did finally wrest possession they scored almost immediately, Mathijsen escaping from his markers to head Tarik Sektioui's cross past Laštuvka at the near post. The visitors sat back immediately, allowing Shakhtar to attack at will but they were constantly denied by Timmer.
Meanwhile, Alkmaar posed a huge threat on the break and Sektioui almost stretched the advantage on 66 minutes but saw his effort hit the upright. Perez managed to tuck his penalty just inside the post at the end of the match, though, and the Dutch side will now be big favourites ahead of next Wednesday's second leg at the Alkmaarderhout when Shakhtar, who will be without captain Anatoliy Tymoschuk through suspension, must score three times.
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