AZ reached the quarter-finals of a European tournament for the first time in nine years on Thursday. After the 1-2 win in Rome last week, Lazio was again defeated 2-1 in the return in Alkmaar in the eighth finals of the Conference League.
In 2014, AZ reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League by eliminating Anzhi with great difficulty. It went much more convincingly against the number three of the Italian Serie A on Thursday, although the away team quickly took a 0-1 lead. Felipe Anderson scored in the 21st minute.
Seven minutes later, Jesper Karlsson scored 1-1 with a beautiful shot from distance. Then the Swede was the 2-1 by Vangelis Pavlidis in the 62nd minute.
AZ then had many chances to win with larger numbers, but 2-1 was more than enough to continue. Earlier in the evening, Feyenoord excelled in De Kuip against Shakhtar Donetsk (7-1) in the eighth finals of the Europa League, as a result of which both Dutch clubs remain active in Europe.
The draw for the quarterfinals of the Europa League with Feyenoord will take place on Friday at 13:00. An hour later, AZ goes into the box for the Conference League draw.
Lazio spares players for city derby
Lazio awaits the important city derby against AS Roma on Sunday and that was reflected in the line-up against AZ on Thursday evening. 65-time Spanish international Pedro was spared, as was his compatriot Luis Alberto.
AZ did of course start in the strongest possible line-up in the AFAS Stadium, which was sold out for the first time this European campaign. Top scorer Pavlidis was in the point and got the first chance in the seventeenth minute. The Greek headed a Jens Odgaard cross wide.
There seemed to be little going on for AZ, but after 21 minutes it was suddenly 0-1 for Lazio. Mattia Zaccagni was given all the space and found Felipe Anderson. The Brazilian scored with a low shot in the short corner (0-1).
Seven minutes later there was already an answer from AZ. Karlsson dribbled up on the left and then shot the ball beautifully from about 25 meters into the far corner (1-1).
The equalizer was deserved and AZ was even entitled to more before the break. Tijjani Reijnders and Pavlidis tried from a distance and in the last seconds of the first half Karlsson almost made his second.
Reijnders hits the post twice
Ten minutes after the break, AZ was close to 2-1 again. Reijnders lashed out and saw his shot hit the post. The waiting was for the liberating second goal of the home team and in the 62nd minute the time had come. A flashy charge came at Karlsson, who laid back at Pavlidis. With a low shot, the Greek scored his eleventh European goal in his career for AZ (2-1).
Shortly after the 2-1, AZ could have finished it. Odgaard hit the post and an attempt by Sven Mijnans went wide.
The missed opportunities did not matter, because the very strong AZ did not get into trouble anymore. Substitute Pedro did get a chance, but he was the only one on behalf of Lazio. With another shot from Reijnders against the post, AZ was closer to a goal, although that also failed to materialize. It didn’t make the party any less great for AZ afterwards, which is back in a European quarter final after eight years.