AZ Alkmaar survived a late scare but nevertheless secured the required draw against FC Slovan Liberec to take themselves into a UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie with Russia's FC Anji Makhachkala.
After Nick Viergever had given the Dutch side a 1-0 round of 32 first-leg cushion last Thursday, the defender was at it again to put the hosts ahead. Yevhen Budnik scored from close range after the interval to draw the game level, but Slovan were unable to find a late winner to send the Czech team into the next stage.
Unbeaten in the tournament so far, Dick Advocaat's AZ started on the front foot although the visitors, knowing a goal could end their hopes, proved resolute at the back. AZ's only opening in the first 15 minutes came when Etienne Reijnen was released down the right but his pull-back was fired over the bar by Aron Jóhannsson. Jaroslav Šilhavý's men could not prevent Viergever getting his second of the tie, however, on 19 minutes as the captain escaped the attentions of marker Budnik to flick Nemanja Gudelj's corner past Lukáš Hroššo.
Slovan responded as Jan Rajnoch forced Esteban into a fine save low to the goalkeeper's left before the break, while David Pavelka teased a curling effort just wide after the restart. The pressure increased further with Esteban tipping Serhiy Rybalka's goalbound drive over, and it came to fruition when Budnik slid a corner into the net at the back post with 18 minutes remaining. Esteban bravely raced out to deny Budnik and athletically turned Josef Šural's 88th-minute header round the post to guarantee AZ a safe passage.
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