AMSTERDAM – Aron Jóhannsson became just the second American to hit the 25-goal mark in a single European campaign by coaxing home a first-half penalty on Thursday to give AZ Alkmaar a 1-0 leg up on Europa League round-of-16 visitors Anzhi Makhachkala.
The US forward stepped up to the spot after Ali Gadzhibekov was whistled for a handball in the Russian side's area in the 29th minute. Anzhi netminder Mikhail Kerzhakov was able to get a hand on Jóhannsson's low attempt, but the shot had enough steam on it to spin its way over the line.
Following in the footsteps of predecessor Jozy Altidore, Jóhannsson made it the second year running in which an American had chalked up at least 25 goals across all competitions as the AZ center forward. The No. 20 shirt now stands six behind his US teammate's American standard of 31 goals in an overall campaign.
Hoping to gain both revenge for last year's Europa League ouster to Anzhi and a place in this edition's final eight, AZ will head to Moscow on March 20 for the second leg.
Meanwhile, Brad Friedel served as the backup goalkeeper in Tottenham's 3-1 opening-leg defeat to guests Benfica.