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Esteban proves decisive as AZ edge Anji

Published: Thursday 13 March 2014, 23.00CET
AZ Alkmaar 1-0 FC Anji Makhachkala
Unbeaten AZ had fortune and goalkeeper Esteban to thank for a slender lead in the tie after Aron Jóhannsson's penalty squirmed in to separate the sides.
Esteban proves decisive as AZ edge Anji
Anji's Aleksandr Bukharov (left) and Simon Poulsen of AZ vie for possession ©AFP/Getty Images
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Published: Thursday 13 March 2014, 23.00CET

Esteban proves decisive as AZ edge Anji

AZ Alkmaar 1-0 FC Anji Makhachkala
Unbeaten AZ had fortune and goalkeeper Esteban to thank for a slender lead in the tie after Aron Jóhannsson's penalty squirmed in to separate the sides.

It is advantage AZ Alkmaar in the race to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after a 1-0 home win against FC Anji Makhachkala.

Aron Jóhannsson squeezed a first-half penalty past Anji goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov to settle the match, but AZ withstood sustained pressure from a team throwing caution to the wind. Dick Advocaat's outfit relied on a first-rate performance from their No1 Esteban to preserve their unbeaten run in this season's competition and secure a slender lead to take to Russia next week.

The hosts came close to opening the scoring when a sedentary start gave way to a manic scramble on 15 minutes. AZ goalkeeper Esteban was left prone after reacting to Aleksandr Bukharov's blocked shot, and Fedor Smolov headed the rebound firmly back over the stopper. Refusing to be beaten, though, Esteban scrambled to his feet, palmed the looping header upwards as he crashed to the ground, then clawed the dropping ball away before it could cross the line.

It was a priceless save, as 16 minutes later AZ took the lead. Ali Gadzhibekov's flailing arm cost his side a penalty and while Kerzhakov got two hands to Aron Jóhannsson's spot-kick, the ball bounced agonisingly over the line.

The AZ crossbar somehow withstood a coruscating long-range free-kick by Olexandr Aliyev, and Esteban stuck out a palm to deflect Bukharov's close-range shot as the hosts stole a half-time lead against a desperately frustrated Anji.

Anji picked up where they had left off, Aliyev worrying Esteban with another screaming set-piece from distance, before substitute Nikita Burmistrov's downward header tested the keeper's positioning at the back post. Esteban passed with flying colours.

Anji's will wilted as the contest wore on and the home side gently probed their tiring opponents. Jóhannsson was foiled by Kerzhakov's low stop in the clearest opportunity, but neither side was prepared to risk a late surge and the tie remains alive.

Last updated: 15/03/14 0.01CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2014/matches/round=2000471/match=2012652/postmatch/report/index.html#az+edge+anji

Lineups

az

AZ

anji

Anji

1
EstebanEsteban (GK)
22
KerzhakovMikhail Kerzhakov (GK)
2
JohanssonMattias Johansson
2
EschenkoAndrei Eschenko
4
ViergeverNick Viergever (C)
3
GadzhibekovAli Gadzhibekov
8
GudeljNemanja Gudelj
4
AngbwaBenoît Angbwa
12
ElmViktor Elm
6
EpureanuAlexandru Epureanu (C)
Yellow Card74
15
S. PoulsenSimon Poulsen
Substitution46
16
MkrtchyanKarlen Mkrtchyan
20
JóhannssonAron Jóhannsson
Goal29
25
Ahmedov                       Odil Ahmedov
Yellow Card66
22
BerghuisSteven Berghuis
Substitution24
30
BukharovAleksandr Bukharov
Substitution85
23
BeerensRoy Beerens
37
EwertonEwerton
Yellow Card20
Substitution46
24
GouweleeuwJeffrey Gouweleeuw
Yellow Card34
88
AliyevOlexandr Aliyev
Substitution71
26
OrtizCelso Ortiz
90
SmolovFedor Smolov

Substitutes

16
De WinterYves De Winter (GK)
1
PomazanEvgeni Pomazan (GK)
5
GorterDonny Gorter
7
AgalarovKamil Agalarov
6
ReijnenEtienne Reijnen
20
SobolevVladimir Sobolev
7
GudmundssonJohann Gudmundsson
Substitution24
28
SerderovSerder Serderov
Substitution71
19
HenriksenMarkus Henriksen
81
BurmistrovNikita Burmistrov
Substitution46
29
WuytensJan Wuytens
Substitution46
Yellow Card58
99
AbdulavovIslamnur Abdulavov
Substitution85
44
AvdicDenni Avdic

Coach

Dick Advocaat (NED) Gadzhi Gadzhiev (RUS)

Referee

Daniele Orsato (ITA)

Assistant referees

Renato Faverani (ITA), Andrea Stefani (ITA)

Fourth official

Alessandro Giallatini (ITA)

Additional assistant referees

Paolo Mazzoleni (ITA), Antonio Damato (ITA)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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