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Anji stalemate enough to send AZ through

Published: Thursday 20 March 2014, 20.10CET
FC Anji Makhachkala 0-0 AZ Alkmaar (agg: 0-1)
The hosts failed to get a shot on target, allowing AZ to take their place in Friday's quarter-final draw courtesy of last week's narrow win.
by Richard van Poortvliet
from Saturn Stadium

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Published: Thursday 20 March 2014, 20.10CET

Anji stalemate enough to send AZ through

FC Anji Makhachkala 0-0 AZ Alkmaar (agg: 0-1)
The hosts failed to get a shot on target, allowing AZ to take their place in Friday's quarter-final draw courtesy of last week's narrow win.

It proved a happy return to Russia for Dick Advocaat thanks to his AZ Alkmaar side's 0-0 draw at FC Anji Makhachkala, ensuring a 1-0 aggregate victory and a place in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

Anji produced plenty of intricate football but were unable to provide a killer touch in the final third and failed to get a shot on target all game. Their Dutch visitors, meanwhile, were happy to sit back and defend their last-16 first-leg lead but still produced the better openings and could easily have won on the night.

It was not all plain sailing, however, with Anji's Olexandr Alijev particularly threatening in the early stages. Though Gadzhi Gadzhiev's charges dominated initial possession, they were forced to rely on efforts from distance and never looked like seriously troubling Esteban in the away goal.

Indeed, AZ grew in stature as the first half progressed and might have gone in front just before the break when Nemanja Gudelj curled a free-kick against a post – home goalkeeper Mikhail Kerzhakov was well beaten. It was Steven Berghuis's turn to go close soon after the interval, with Aron Jóhannsson then calling Kerzhakov into action courtesy of a dipping attempt from range.

Jóhannsson had another presentable opportunity just after the hour when he capitalised on an Aliyev mistake, but failed to convert. Berghuis also had a second bite at the cherry yet Kerzhakov was once more up to the task.

Though the hosts tired as the clock ticked down, they nearly scored an unlikely leveller when Aliyev whistled a 25-metre free-kick narrowly wide. AZ survived to take their place in Friday's last-eight draw, while Anji's misery was compounded by the 93rd-minute dismissal of Karlen Mkrtchyan.

Last updated: 22/03/14 0.01CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2014/matches/round=2000471/match=2012660/postmatch/report/index.html#az+edge+anji

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