no Europa League semifinals
Feyenoord were eliminated by AS Roma in the quarterfinals of the Europa League. They lost 4-1 in the extension in Italy.
The Rotterdammers expected a hot night in Rome and got it. It was buzzing from the start at Stadio Olimpico, where the 1-0 lead gained last week at home Kuip was defended against the team of cunning Portuguese coach José Mourinho, who had been narrowly too strong in last year’s Conference League final.
Arne Slot’s team fell behind 1-0 fifteen minutes after halftime, but straightened their backs for the umpteenth time this season. In the 80th minute, substitute Igor Paixão appeared to head his team into the last four, but Paulo Dybala dragged out an extension for the Romans.
In it, goals by Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini ended Feyenoord’s European adventure.
Watch reactions from José Mourinho, Arne Slot and Orkun Kokcü below.
Feyenoord had visited Stadio Olimpico earlier in the tournament. Lazio showed the Rotterdammers every corner of the pitch in early September and led comfortably 3-0 after just half an hour. A repeat of that scenario obviously had to be avoided at all costs in the arena filled to the brim with Roma fans, where Feyenoord supporters were not welcome.
That did threaten for a moment when Mats Wieffer, the match winner seven days back, lost the ball as early as the third minute and Andrea Belloti had a shooting chance. The 44-time international was in the striker position at AS Roma because Mourinho had not dared to start with his star players Paulo Dybala and Tammy Abraham, who had to be sidelined prematurely with injury in Rotterdam last week.
While Justin Bijlow was able to turn away the strike from Belotti, who has yet to find the net this season in Serie A despite over 700 playing minutes, he was powerless to stop a quick shot from Bryan Cristante. The ball whizzed wide to the relief of the goalkeeper.
Feyenoord were immediately under heavy pressure and both Quilindschy Hartman and Wieffer were soon shown a yellow card. Yet in between, Sebastian Szymanski was close to making it 0-1. The Pole took Rui Patrício under fire from close range after a cross from Alireza Jahanbakhsh. The Portuguese goalkeeper was lucky that the ball came straight at him.
Red for assistant
The troubled opening phase that English referee Anthony Taylor had his hands full with experienced an unsavory low point after just under half an hour when one of Roma’s assistant coaches near the touchline struck Santiago Gimenez, who came to retrieve the ball for a throw-in, in the face. The culprit was allowed to leave with red, but the incident did throw fresh oil on the fire.
Georginio Wijnaldum was already back in the dressing room at the time. Apparently a muscle injury had felled the former Feyenoord player. He therefore missed the distance shots of a gradually strengthening Feyenoord, which looked for and found good space. Patrício had few problems with the flares from Oussama Idrissi and Orkun Kökcü, but almost misjudged those from Szymanski.
The second half, entered with the score 0-0, was less than 15 seconds old when Bijlow had to pull out all the stops to keep Lorenzo Pellegrini from scoring from close range.
Fifteen minutes later it was still on target. After a long throw-in and some fumbling in the Feyenoord penalty area, the ball fell to Leonardo Spinazzola, who slid into the far corner with some luck: 1-0.
With Igor Paixão for Idrissi and Danilo for Jahanbakhsh, Feyenoord sought the attack. At AS Roma, Dybala and Abraham made their appearance after all. The Englishman asserted himself immediately – and not for the last time – by laying the ball ready for Cristante, who finished neatly, but saw the goal cancelled out because Abraham had committed a pushing error.
Feyenoord was warned, but bit off. And with success. Szymanski crossed in the 80th minute and the small Paixão, overlooked by the Roma defense that was now without the strong and tall Chris Smalling, headed the ball home: 1-1. The semifinals beckoned emphatically.
AS Roma obviously did not want to resign itself to that and stepped up the pressure again. And still had the class of world champion Dybala behind them, as it turned out in the 89th minute. The Argentine, played in by Pellegrini, turned away from Gernot Trauner in fabulous fashion and chased the ball hard behind Bijlow. The latter did manage to drag out an extension in extra time after a shot by Dybala again.
Gimenez could have given his team a substantial assist in that, but the Mexican, already good for five goals this Europa League season, chased the ball over the Italian goal in a promising position. At the other end, Roger Ibañez headed against the post.
It turned out to be a stay of execution. Still in the first extension, Feyenoord suffered a thumping blow when Pellegrini opened up on Abraham, who in turn helped Stephan El Shaarawy to a nick: 3-1. The final blow soon followed in the second extension. Abraham escaped offside, but saw his shot stopped by Bijlow. The latter was then defenseless to Pellegrini’s rebound: 4-1.
In the closing stages, Gimenez was penalized with a red card after a hard foul on Gianluca Mancini’s knee. But defeat was no longer avertable by then.