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AZ proud to recover from 'nightmare' opening

Niklas Moisander was proud of his AZ Alkmaar team after they overcame a "nightmare start" to beat Udinese Calcio 3-2 on aggregate and reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

AZ proud to recover from 'nightmare' opening
AZ proud to recover from 'nightmare' opening ©UEFA.com

AZ Alkmaar defender Niklas Moisander told UEFA.com he is "very proud" of his team after the Dutch Eredivisie leaders recovered from conceding two early goals and suffering a third-minute sending-off to beat Udinese Calcio 3-2 on aggregate and qualify for the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals. Udinese forward Antonio Floro Flores, meanwhile, could not hide his disappointment, ruing the AZ strike that "destroyed our plans" after two quick goals had wiped out the Zebrette's first-leg deficit.

Niklas Moisander, AZ defender
The start was a nightmare. We didn't want this to happen even if we knew Udinese were going to attack from the off. The penalty and red card were bad for us so I'm very proud of the team, who kept fighting and eventually managed to qualify. Making it 2-1 was very important because we had a two-goal cushion again, and after scoring we knew it was possible so we started believing even more. We fought for each other and that was the key to our success. In the second half Udinese attacked a lot because they had to score twice, so we had space to counter. We got the penalty, which unfortunately Rasmus [Elm] missed, but we could have scored even more.

Erik Falkenburg, AZ midfielder
It was a really difficult start. The red card was very hard for us and we didn't know if we were going to survive, but ultimately we did so we are very happy now. After making it 2-0, Udinese calmed down a bit, so we could better organise ourselves. Then our goals made it much easier for us. We are having a great season. It doesn't matter to me which team we face, we are just happy to have reached the quarter-finals.

Antonio Floro Flores, Udinese forward
It is a huge disappointment considering what we did in the early stages tonight – we had showed we could do it. I don't think we deserved to concede from their first attempt. It was their only shot in the first half. We knew it wouldn't be easy to qualify after the 2-0 first-leg defeat but the team gave everything tonight and we went close. When we were 2-0 up we started to believe we could really do it. Maybe that was our downfall, because we stopped playing as we had been. AZ proved to be a very good team, very difficult to beat, but we already knew that from the first leg. We played with heart and we are sad because we had managed to level the aggregate score. Unfortunately their goal destroyed our plans.

Diego Fabbrini, Udinese forward
We started very well and managed to bridge the gap from the first leg. Unfortunately their goal cut our legs off. We tried to score the two goals we then needed in the second half but we couldn't manage it, despite creating a few chances. At times we were unlucky, at times we made mistakes. However, it's normal to slow down as we did after starting the game at such a high tempo. AZ are very good side, they are very good at keeping possession and it's never easy against teams like that.