Martens volleys AZ past Anderlecht

Published on 23 februari 12, 00:00
BRUSSEL- AZ reached the Europa League round of 16 at the expense of Anderlecht. Maarten Martens scored a 53rd-minute goal to give AZ a 0-1 win at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadion on Thursday night. AZ will now play the Italian side Udinese, after having beaten Anderlecht 2-0 on aggregate.

"We’re in for a really tough night”, warned Gertjan Verbeek his players after guiding them side to a 1-0 win in the first leg in Alkmaar. And his prediction proved to be true. Anderlecht burst out of the blocks and threatened the AZ goal three times in the first five minutes. Dirk Marcellis made a block-tackle and Esteban pulled off a save to deny Dieumerci Mbokani, while Matías Suárez hit the post. Sacha Kljestan´s free-kick was pushed away by Esteban for a corner.

When things had gradually quieted down, AZ also cautiously tried their luck, with Adam Maher sending a shot narrowly wide on the stroke of half-time.

Relieved to have survived the first-half scares, AZ broke the deadlock themselves nine minutes into the second half. Martens volleyed Roy Beerens´ cross from the right across goal and into the net, with the ball taking a slight deflection of Marcin Wasilewski. Anderlecht now faced an uphill task, needing to score three goals to go through.

The leaders in the Belgian league sent men forward but were unable to carve open AZ´s well-organised defence, with Nick Viergever putting in a man-of-the-match performance. Esteban kept a clean sheet, although Mbokani´s header in the dying seconds rattled the bar.

AZ will face Udinese in the round of 16. They will first play host to the Italian side at the AFAS Stadion on 8 March before travelling to Italy on 15 March. The Italians booked a place in the last 16 at the expense of the Greek side PAOK Saloniki.

Verbeek: ‘Silence a few critics’
“We survived a scare the first fifteen minutes with a bit of luck”, said Verbeek at the post-match conference. “Maher had a fine chance on the stroke of half-time. It was the prelude to a convincing second-half performance. All in all, I think we ran out deserved winners and we succeeded in winning an away game, which will silence a few critics.”

Anderlecht – AZ 0-1 (0-0)
Europa League round of 32

Anderlecht line-up: Silvio Proto; Marcin Wasilewski, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Roland Juhász, Olivier Deschacht (61. Patou Kabangu); Sacha Kljestan, Lucas Biglia; Guillaume Gillet, Matías Suárez, Milan Jovanovic; Dieumerci Mbokani.
AZ line-up: Esteban; Dirk Marcellis (55. Etiënne Reijnen), Niklas Moisander, Nick Viergever, Simon Poulsen; Adam Maher, Rasmus Elm, Maarten Martens (75. Erik Falkenburg); Roy Beerens, Charlison Benschop (44. Jozy Altidore), Brett Holman.

Goals: 54. Martens 0-1.
Booked: Kljestan, Juhász, Mbokani, Wasilewski (Anderlecht), Marcellis, Martens, Moisander (AZ).
Sent off: -
Referee: Pedro Proença (Portugal).
Attendance: 26.000

Photos: Ed van de Pol /