An early Vangelis Pavlidis double wiped out the hosts' 2-0 first-leg deficit, paving the way for two Mat Ryan saves in the shoot-out to take AZ into the Europa Conference League semi-finals.
Article top media content
AZ Alkmaar are through to their first European semi-final in 18 years after recovering from 2-0 down on aggregate to beat Anderlecht on penalties in the teams' UEFA Europa Conference League quarter-final second leg.
5': Pavlidis penalty breaks deadlock
13': AZ striker levels aggregate score from close range
65': Ndiaye denied by Ryan with visitors' best chance
72': Reijnders thwarted by last-ditch Vertonghen block
83': Scuffed Kerkez effort strikes post
112': Odgaard finish ruled out for offside
Penalties: Ryan saves from Vertonghen and Sardella
Match in brief: Dominant AZ triumph on spot kicks
Both sides were unchanged from the first leg, but it was AZ who made the brighter start as they immediately set about forcing their way back into the tie. They were given an early opportunity to reduce the arrears when Michael Murillo tripped Milos Kerkez inside the area, allowing Vangelis Pavlidis to send Bart Verbruggen the wrong way from the spot.
The visitors' first-leg advantage was halved, and then wiped out completely just eight minutes later. Kerkez was again involved, threading a magnificent ball through to Jens Odgaard, who showed superb composure to pick out Pavlidis for the Greek international's second of the game. It could have been 3-0 moments later, but Pavlidis lost his footing at a crucial moment and Anderlecht were able to clear.
The AZ striker was taken off at half-time with a reported ankle injury, but AZ continued to hold the upper hand as the second half progressed. Moussa Ndiaye stung Ryan's palms at the near post in a rare opening for Anderlecht, who were fortunate not to fall further behind when Kerkez's scuffed effort came back off the post.
Tijjani Reijnders thought he had completed the turnaround in the first half of extra time, but the midfielder's finish from a tight angle was disallowed for offside. It mattered little, though, as Ryan saved from Jan Vertonghen and Killian Sardella in the shoot-out, while AZ scored all four of their spot kicks to book a last-four spot.
Alyssa Saliou, match reporter
Anderlecht arrived at the AZ Stadion with a 2-0 advantage, which they surrendered inside the opening quarter of an hour. Alkmaar held the reins for the entire first half and aside from efforts by Lior Refaelov and Amadou Diawara, the visitors barely threatened in the second period either. Verbruggen made save after save to keep Anderlecht in the game, but it was Ryan's heroics that proved decisive in the shoot-out.
Pascal Jansen, AZ coach: "Some people already declared us finished, but we showed them what we can do and who we are. I'm very proud of my side. We knew we had a fair chance. And naturally, when you start a game this way, you create momentum. Unfortunately we needed penalties to go through, but that's all that matters."
Jens Odgaard, AZ Alkmaar forward: "We're ready for West Ham. We had a good game in the league [at Fortuna Sittard at the weekend] and now this victory. I feel like this season, this team, we're capable of doing big things. I think it's going to be a different kind of game in the next round, but we're ready."
Bart Verbruggen, Anderlecht goalkeeper: "Disappointment – that's all I feel for the moment. If I look back at our journey in the Europa Conference League this season, we can only be proud – but now I'm just disappointed."
Brian Riemer, Anderlecht coach: "I'm proud of my team, but if you give away your 2-0 advantage so early in the game... I think the penalty happened in the first minute and a half? Then ten minutes later they double their lead. That gave them momentum as well. AZ played a magnificent game and we weren't up to it today, but I'm proud of every single member of this team."
- AZ are through to their first European semi-final since 2005, when they lost to Sporting CP in the last four of the UEFA Cup.
- AZ have won all eight home games in the Europa Conference League this season.
- Excluding qualifying, Pavlidis has scored five goals in as many Europa Conference League games in 2022/23.
- Alkmaar raced into their fastest 2-0 lead in a European game since September 1977, when they led by the same scoreline after 12 minutes against Differdange in the UEFA Cup first round.
AZ: Ryan; Sugawara, Hatzidiakos, Beukema, Kerkez (De Wit 101); Clasie, Mijnans (Bazoer 113), Reijnders; Odgaard (Mihailovic 113), Pavlidis (Lahdo 46), Van Brederode (Meerdink 101)
Anderlecht: Verbruggen; Murillo (Sardella 62), Debast, Vertonghen, Ndiaye; Dreyer, Diawara (Kana 111), Refaelov (Stroeykens 76), Ashimeru (Arnstad 90), Amuzu; Slimani (Angulo 106)
AZ will face West Ham in the semi-finals on Thursday 11 and 18 May, playing the first leg away.