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Alkmaar seeking rapid recovery

Domestic news: Semi-final opponents AZ Alkmaar and Sporting Clube de Portugal had contrasting weekends.

Pegged back
Three days after sealing their UEFA Cup semi-final place by eliminating Villarreal CF, Alkmaar - without injured defender Joris Mathijsen - took a sixth-minute advantage through Tarik Sektioui, but were pegged back to 1-1 with 20 minutes remaining and had to settle for a point.

Slipping Alkmaar
Having dropped only 13 points in their opening 24 Eredivisie matches of the season, Co Adriaanse's Alkmaar have since lost a further ten in just four games and are in danger of missing out on the UEFA Champions League qualification that seemed a certainty a month ago. Adriaanse brought in Kew Jaliens for Mathijsen, who will be sidelined for six months after tearing tendons in his knee against Villarreal, while Barry van Galen, Kenneth Perez and Robin Nelisse all started on the substitutes' bench.

Sporting second
In contrast, next Thursday's opponents Sporting Clube de Portugal are firing on all cylinders, having gone second in the Portuguese SuperLiga on Monday night with a 3-1 win at bottom side Moreirense FC. Goals from Roudolphe Douala, Sá Pinto and Liedson did the damage for José Peseiro's men, although Doula was replaced at half-time with a thigh strain in his left leg. He is expected back in training in midweek.

Beto suspended
Midfielder Carlos Martins watched from the stands, also because of a thigh problem, but should recover full fitness in time for the first leg against Alkmaar in Portugal, for which Beto will be suspended.