AZ also surprise Lazio in Alkmaar and reach Conference League quarterfinals

AZ also surprise Lazio in Alkmaar and reach Conference League quarterfinals
Vangelis Pavlidis (left) celebrates the 2-1 against Lazio with Sven Mijnans

NOS Football

After Feyenoord, AZ also reached the quarter-finals in Europe. In the Conference League against Lazio, just like last week in Rome, a 1-0 deficit was turned into a surprising 2-1 victory over Italy’s number three.

Tomorrow afternoon is the draw for the quarter-finals, possible opponents are: Anderlecht (with the outstanding goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen, who is in the Dutch national team’s pre-selection), Gent, West Ham United, Lech Poznan (trained by John van den Brom), Fiorentina, FC Basel and Nice.

Lazio was changed in no less than five places compared to the previous game against AZ, and in three places compared to last weekend’s league match. Reason for this could be next Sunday’s Serie A match, the Derby della Capitale. In other words, the loaded city derby against AS Roma.

Always important, but also this year in terms of ranking because of the Champions League tickets for the first four teams. Lazio is third and Roma, with two points less, is currently number five.

AZ not shocked by deficit

Already in the second minute, AZ left-back Milos Kerkez picked up a yellow card after he put down his man Matteo Cancellieri, who had broken through on the outside. It did not herald a spectacular start to the match, as the first chance was not created until the seventeenth minute.

Jens Odgaard passed a ball from the back line that striker Vangelis Pavlidis did not hit quite right in a promising position. The ball did not go on goal, indeed more towards the sideline.

Four minutes later, the Italians scored the 0-1 out of nowhere. Mattia Zaccagni was sent deep over the left and found Felipe Anderson in AZ’s 16-yard area. The Brazilian shot hard and dry into the short corner of AZ goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

Swab Karlsson

AZ immediately went on the counterattack, although it did not produce any immediate chances. It didn’t need to, because in the 28th minute Jesper Karlsson popped the ball, with a big swab, into the goal behind Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel from distance: 1-1.

AZ was stronger after that, with shots by Sven Mijnans and Tijjani Reijnders wide of the goal and a shot on goal by Pavlidis just before halftime. That shot was saved by Provedel. The resulting corner was also dangerous, but Karlsson’s seething shot was again saved. The halftime signal sounded.

Jesper Karlsson cheers after his equalizer

In the second half, Lazio left back Luca Pellegrini also tried from distance with a swabbing ball, Ryan could only save with difficulty. The Italians did not show much more early in the second half. Indeed, Reijnders was able to shoot again from outside the sixteen and shot the ball at the post. In the 62nd minute, things got even better for the Alkmaar players.

Pavlidis took the ball well in the penalty area and shot low and dry: 2-1. Just like in Rome last week, AZ turned a 1-0 deficit into a lead. Almost immediately afterwards AZ seemed to deliver the final blow, but an unsuccessful header by Pavlidis was narrowly turned into a corner. Another minute later, Odgaard hit the post.

Brighter, fresher

Where Lazio needed two goals for an extension, AZ seemed to need the goals. They played brighter, fresher and simply better than Lazio after the 2-1. Even bringing in Spaniards Luis Alberto and Pedro (who still scored in Rome) made little difference. Reijnders even hit the post again 15 minutes before time.

Not for a moment was the victory for the Alkmaarers in danger. Lazio did not seem to have or want to waste strength and AZ took advantage gratefully.

Kayleigh Williams