- © RIA Novosti. Anton Denisov
© RIA Novosti. Anton Denisov
MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) - A second-half strike from Ivorian striker Lacina Traore gave Anzhi a 1-0 victory over AZ Alkmaar in their Europa League playoff first-leg match Thursday.
Traore opened the scoring on 51 minutes, hammering the ball into the corner as he fell, after a cross delivered by Dutch midfielder Mbark Boussoufa.
The goal was immediately followed by pyrotechnics thrown on the pitch.
"It was a match where tactics decided a lot," Anzhi coach Guus Hiddink said. "I don't think AZ had any special chances."
AZ coach Gertjan Verbeek said he was disappointed with the defeat.
"A draw would have been a fair result for the match," he said. "Anzhi also had few chances, but they managed to score one goal."
Big-spending Anzhi has been forced to host its home games outside its home region of Dagestan due to security concerns, meaning that the game was held in Moscow.
Fans of Moscow teams arrived to protest Anzhi’s use of Lokomotiv Moscow’s ground for the game, chanting racial abuse at Anzhi supporters and noisily supporting AZ.
"I think UEFA should pay attention and punish the people who did that," Anzhi midfielder Mbark Boussoufa said of the hostile support.
The second leg is scheduled for August 30.
AZ captain Maarten Martens fired wide from a free-kick in a quiet first half, while Boussoufa missed with a volley at the other end.
AZ’s Erik Falkenburg and Martens both struck the ball over the bar in the second half, but the visitors’ best chance came on 75 minutes when midfielder Viktor Elm rattled the bar with a shot from within the penalty area.
Anzhi could have double their advantage a minute before full-time when AZ goalkeeper Esteban pulled off a fingertip save to deny Boussoufa.
The reason for the stadium switch is that Dagestan, one of Russia’s poorest regions, is seen as a hotbed of terrorist activity and the origin of several deadly attacks over the last few years.
As recently as May, 14 people were killed and 122 wounded in suicide blasts in Anzhi's home city of Makhachkala.