AMSTERDAM — Five US internationals kicked off Europa League round of 32 on Thursday, with Jozy Altidore's AZ Alkmaar edging out a 1-0 first leg victory over Sacha Kljestan and visiting Anderlecht.
The US striker came on for the final 14 minutes to help the home side close out the win, which extended the Dutch side's Europa League unbeaten run to eight games. Adam Maher converted a cross 10 minutes before the break to put the Cheese Farmers a leg up.
Kljestan, meanwhile, worked a faultless 90 minutes in midfield for the Mauves. Anderlecht host the climactic return match on Feb. 23.
Elsewhere, Hannover 96 skipper Steve Cherundolo picked up a yellow card that will see him suspended for the second leg in their 2-1 rally win over guests Club Brugge.
The right back was removed shortly after the Reds had equalized in the 73rd minute and just before Jan Schlaudraff's spot kick won the day. Unbeaten in five since the winter break ended, Hannover will try to reach their first UEFA sweet 16 since 1969 when they head to Brugge next week.
Jermaine Jones returned to the Schalke fold with a full shift in their 1-1 fightback draw at Czech champs FC Viktoria Plzen. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's scramble goal 15 minutes from time gave the Royal Blues an edge heading home for the decider.
Finally, Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting CP clawed back twice for a 2-2 share at Legia Warsaw. A spectacular 88th-minute trivela strike from André Santos put the Lions in the driver seat for next week's tie-closer in Lisbon.