Maher fires AZ past Anderlecht

Published on 16 februari 12, 00:00
ALKMAAR- Adam Maher scored the only goal of the Europa League round of 32 first leg to give AZ a 1-0 win over Anderlecht at the AFAS Stadion on Thursday night. The second leg will take place in Brussels next week.

Gertjan Verbeek´s team deserved more than just a narrow 1-0 victory. AZ created numerous chances against the leaders in the Belgian league. They could have been in pole position to reach the next round, if they had taken their chances.

AZ were rewarded for their dominance ten minutes before the break when Simon Poulsen delivered a fine left-wing cross and Adam Maher got ahead of his marker to slot home from close range: 1-0. Maarten Martens, Roy Beerens, Benschop and Brett Holman all had a chance to double AZ´s lead in the first half, but lacked cutting edge.

Anderlecht´s leading scorer Matías Suárez, who had been out all week with the flu, was on the bench. The visitors restricted themselves to defending for the entire match, looking to strike on the counter-attack.

AZ continued to dominate the game after the break, but Maher, Martens and Holman failed to score the second goal that would have brought relief ahead of AZ´s trip to the Constant Vanden Stock Stadion next week. Les Mauves et Blancs had their only meaningful chance of the game in the 83rd minute, when Dieumerci Mbokani delivered a sharp cross from the right wing. Guillaume Gillet, though, sent his header straight at Esteban.

Europa League round of 32

AZ line-up: Esteban; Dirk Marcellis, Niklas Moisander, Nick Viergever, Simon Poulsen; Adam Maher, Rasmus Elm, Maarten Martens; Roy Beerens, Charlison Benschop (76. Jozy Altidore), Brett Holman (78. Johann Berg Gudmundsson).

Anderlecht line-up: Silvio Proto; Marcin Wasilewski (90. Denis Odoi), Cheikhou Kouyaté, Roland Juhász, Behrang Safari (46. Olivier Deschacht); Sacha Kljestan, Lucas Biglia; Guillaume Gillet, Fernando Canesin (59. Matías Suárez), Milan Jovanovic; Dieumerci Mbokani.

Goals: 35. Maher 1-0.

Booked: Marcellis, Gudmundsson (AZ), Suárez, Mbokani (Anderlecht).

Referee: Florian Meyer.

Attendance: 13.744

Ph otos: Ed van de Pol /