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Viergever gives grown-up AZ their due

Nick Viergever was proud AZ Alkmaar played "like adults, as a team" as a 0-0 draw in Russia ousted an FC Anji Makhachkala side who created too little for Alexandru Epureanu.

Viergever gives grown-up AZ their due
Viergever gives grown-up AZ their due ©UEFA.com

AZ Alkmaar captain Nick Viergever praised his side's tactical display after they moved into the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals with a 1-0 aggregate victory against FC Anji Makhachkala. The Dutch visitors did not allow the Russian club a shot on target in the round of 16 decider in Ramenskoye, with Anji's Alexandru Epureanu concluding the tie was lost in the first leg where his team passed up four excellent chances.

Nick Viergever, AZ defender
It was a really difficult trip because the flight was long. We were travelling on the bus for two hours and the traffic was not good. The weather was also -5C or -6C so that was also not good for us, but we played well and played like adults, as a team – we did a really good job.

Our tactics were a little bit different with five at the back, but it was quite difficult for them to get through us. On the counterattack we created three really good chances. If we had scored one then the game would have been over, but they had no chances so well done to the team.

Simon Poulsen, AZ defender
It was a fantastic result for us. We were criticised a little bit in the Netherlands for not playing as well as we can. Today that did not matter, as we were playing away against a good team and we knew it would be difficult as they were physically very strong. We changed the tactics, playing with five defenders, and I think we deserved to go through.

In the first half-hour they dominated – we knew they would throw everything at us and we weathered the storm, and for the last hour I think we were the better team. They created a few chances in the first game and we thought it would be more difficult here, but actually it was easier.

A quarter-final for us is just fantastic. We know will be underdogs, no matter who we draw. It's fantastic and a good experience and anything can happen – maybe we will have a chance in the quarter-finals. We will see. So far we are just happy to reach the quarter-finals.

Alexandru Epureanu, Anji defender
It was difficult for us to play a passing game today. After the break we decided to change our tactics and play a more direct style of football towards our forward, Aleksandr Bukharov. Unfortunately this did not really work for us and we created very little in the second half.

Our fate was decided in the first leg. There we had four very good chances and if we had managed to convert just one of them then today would have been a lot easier for us. AZ would have had to attack and we could have sat back in defence, like our opponents did today.

We were playing in front of our own fans and we really tried to put Alkmaar under pressure for the first 15 or 20 minutes. We tried hard today and gave everything we could to try and qualify for the quarter-finals.

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