An early Barry van Galen goal effectively killed off FC Shakhtar Donetsk's slim hopes of a revival as AZ Alkmaar sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup for the first time since 1981.
Van Galen goal
The 34-year-old playmaker played a clever one-two with Kenneth Perez on the right-hand corner of the box on nine minutes, before unleashing a superb arcing shot past the flailing Jan Laštuvka and into the top corner. Martijn Meerdink doubled the advantage midway through the second half and although his goal was quickly cancelled out by Blumer Elano, Alkmaar eased to a 5-2 aggregate victory.
Van Galen's goal was the perfect start for the home side and, following the Dutch team's 3-1 away victory in the first leg, it left Shakhtar, already without injured strikers Brandão and Zvonimir Vukic, requiring an unlikely three unanswered goals just to take the tie to extra time.
In the absence of those forwards, Mircea Lucescu brought in Elano and Olexiy Bielik to form a three-pronged attack with Julius Aghahowa, while Igor Duljaj replaced the suspended Anatoliy Tymoschuk. But it was another change from the first leg that made the first telling impact as Van Galen, restored to the starting lineup after suspension, broke the deadlock. He could have added another less than a minute later but miscontrolled the ball with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Before the match, Alkmaar coach Co Adriaanse had declared his side would not play their usual attacking game. But the warning never bore much truth and on 22 minutes Tim de Cler, who caused Darijo Srna all manner of problems in the first leg, hinted at doing the same at the Alkmaarderhout as his low, rasping drive forced Laštuvka into an excellent save.
The Czech goalkeeper was forced into action again eight minutes later, after Robin Nelisse had released Meerdink, while at the other end Shakhtar were showing little of the same cutting edge as the home team extinguished any incipient threat with ease.
The Ukrainian side were attempting to utilise their full-backs further up the flank but Srna and Razvan Rat were constantly pushed back, especially by De Cler. Indeed, it was the Alkmaar left-back who created the match's next real opening when his cute inside pass found Perez with half-time approaching, but the Danish striker's shot flashed past the far post.
With the match effectively won, the Dutch side eased off in a disjointed second half, but still managed to extend their lead on 65 minutes after a quick interchange between Nelisse and Perez released Meerdink, who stroked the ball in.
Shakhtar pulled one back almost immediately when Brazilian striker Elano converted a near-post header after a rare foray into the Alkmaar penalty area, but it was too little, too late and the Dutch side sealed a place in Friday's draw.