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UEFA Europa League

  • 15 March 2012
  • • 18:00
  • • Stadio Communale Friuli, Udine
  • Referee: M. Mažić
  • • Attendance: 13300
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FT
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AZ win Aggregate 3 - 2

Udinese 2-1 AZ (Agg 2-3): Di Natale double not enough as 10-man Dutch secure progression to quarter-finals

Udinese 2-1 AZ (Agg 2-3): Di Natale double not enough as 10-man Dutch secure progression to quarter-finals

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A fantastic start and a home win for the Italians wasn't enough to see Alkmaar out of the tie as the prolific striker's double only proved to be a mere consolation in the end

A 2-1 home win for Udinese was not enough to see off AZ in their last-16 Europa League tie, as the Italian side crash out 3-2 on aggregate, despite facing 10 men for most of the match.

The hosts thought they had a real chance after an early brace from captain Antonio Di Natale, the first of which came as a result of an early penalty concession and expulsion for Nick Viergever, but a strike late in the first half from Erik Falkenburg settled the tie in favor of the visitors.

For Udinese, it was nothing short of a dream start despite the side needing to make up a two goal deficit from the first leg. In the first minute, Viergever brought down Antonio Floro Flores in the box and was immediately sent off. Di Natale stepped up and converted the penalty coolly into the left side of the net, and it was game on for Francesco Guidolin’s men.

Mehdi Benatia’s injury in the eight minute was the only blight on a blistering start for the home side, who quickly doubled their lead and leveled the tie in the 15th minute. A gorgeous, sweeping team move ended with Di Natale rifling the ball into the roof of the net from the tightest of angles, and suddenly there was everything to play for.

Before half-time, however, the visitors notched a crucial away goal. Sustained pressure was eventually rewarded with the net bulging from Falkenburg’s shot from the middle of the box, taken impressively as he slipped.

The second half was equally full of drama, as Maurizio Domizzi brought down Brett Holman in the box and conceded a penalty that would have been all but game over for the Italians.

However, Rasmus Elm blasted his effort over the bar, lifting the spirits of the home side for the remainder of the match. Despite veracious attacking efforts, especially from the impressive substitute Deigo Fabbrini, the side were unable to add to their tally.

The exciting win nevertheless spells the end of Udinese’s adventures in the Europa League, whereas their Dutch counterparts progress even further into the knockout rounds.

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