AZ win at Lazio to take step towards Conference League quarter-finals

Milos Kerkez celebrates after scoring the winning goal in Rome. Photo: Antonio Balasco via ANP
Milos Kerkez celebrates after scoring the winning goal in Rome. Photo: Antonio Balasco via ANP

AZ Alkmaar upset the odds at Lazio to put themselves in pole position for a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Conference League.

The Italian side, currently third in Serie A, went ahead in Rome after 18 minutes after Pedro finished off a well-worked move which began when Jordy Clasie gave the ball away in his own half.

But just before half-time Vangelis Pavlidis poked home an equaliser at the near post, before Milos Kerkez threaded the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs for the winner in the 62nd minute.

The result means AZ need just a draw at home on March 16 to progress to the next round. It also boosts Dutch clubs’ chances of securing an extra place in the Champions League in the 2024/25 season.

AZ coach Pascal Jansen was pleased at the way his team grew into the game after Lazio dominated the opening 15 minutes.

‘We played well with the ball, but also without it. We managed to put one of the best teams in Europe under pressure and hold them off,’ he said.

‘Pavlidis’s role was very important, but he was too deep at the start. Things got better after that and we had more time on the ball, so Lazio had to chase it.

‘We can enjoy this result, but not too much. It’s only half-time, the second half is to come in Alkmaar.’

The other Dutch club in the competition, last season’s finalists Feyenoord, will play their first leg against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw on Thursday.

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