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Clinical AZ punish wasteful Anderlecht

RSC Anderlecht 0-1 AZ Alkmaar (agg: 0-2)
Maarten Martens' 53rd-minute goal settled the tie as the Dutch visitors rode an early storm to book a last-16 meeting with Udinese Calcio.

Clinical AZ punish wasteful Anderlecht
Clinical AZ punish wasteful Anderlecht ©UEFA.com

Maarten Martens struck the telling blow in Brussels as AZ Alkmaar added a 1-0 away victory to their first-leg success to sweep past RSC Anderlecht and into the last 16.

The Belgian league leaders were positive from the start as they looked to cancel out Adam Maher's decider in the Netherlands, but after failing to convert a raft of chances they were punished eight minutes into the second half. Martens' deflected volley tightened AZ's grip on the tie and they held firm to set up a meeting with Udinese Calcio next month.

Roared on by the home support, Anderlecht exploded out of the blocks, with Dieudonné Mbokani having a shot intercepted in the first minute before forcing Esteban to save with his legs shortly after. Those efforts raised the crowd's volume even higher, but that was nothing compared to the wall of sound as Matías Suárez lashed a superb swerving volley against the base of a post from 25 metres.

AZ were rocking, but their neat passing gradually earned them a foothold; Charlison Benschop even managed their first attempt on target on 39 minutes. Maher speared narrowly wide for the Eredivisie club just before the interval after Anderlecht's Sacha Kljestan had drawn a sprawling save from Esteban with a free-kick.

The pulsating rhythm continued after the break as Milan Jovanović headed over for the hosts and Brett Holman tested Silvio Proto at the other end. AZ had warned that they carried a threat and they then proved it beyond all doubt when Martens volleyed Roy Beerens' cross from the right across goal and into the net via Marcin Wasilewski.

Suddenly Anderlecht needed three goals and their intensity waned. Indeed, even when the hosts were able to unleash attempts, as they did through Jovanović and Guillaume Gillet late on, Esteban did the rest, leaving Ariël Jacobs' men to rue those missed early chances.