Feyenoord well beaten by Napoli
Feyenoord were unable to cause an upset in their second Champions League Group F match against Napoli on Tuesday evening. Coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team were beaten 3-1 at Stadio San Paolo. Sofyan Amrabat scored Feyenoord’s only goal of the night in second half injury time after Jens Toornstra had missed a penalty with the score at 2-0 to the hosts. Sven van Beek made his return after more than a year on the side lines in the final stages.
The visitors found themselves a goal down early on in Naples for the second time in two Champions League matches. The match was seven minutes old when Sofyan Amrabat lost a midfield tussle with Lorenzo Insigne, who advanced to the edge of the box. The Napoli forward directed his shot into the corner, out of the reach of Brad Jones to open the scoring.
In the first group match at De Kuip, Manchester City quickly added another brace to their early goal to effectively kill the game as a contest. But in Italy Feyenoord managed to regroup almost immediately. In a 4-4-2 formation, the Dutch side enjoyed a lot of possession and seemed to be playing with a good deal of confidence. That said, Feyenoord found it tough to get into the danger zone. The only attempts from the visitors in the first half were from Jean-Paul Boëtius and Steven Berghuis. Both produced a shot in the direction of Pepe Reina’s goal, but neither really troubled the Spaniard.
Feyenoord were keeping their shape well despite a novel formation. A cruciate injury had kept Eric Botteghin in Rotterdam, while his regular defensive partner Jan-Arie van der Heijden was ruled out with a calf injury at the end of the warm-up. As a consequence, Renato Tapia and Jeremiah St. Juste formed a makeshift central defensive duo opposite Serie A most free-scoring team.
The Neapolitan strikers demonstrated their prowess just ahead of the break. A wayward back-pass from Kevin Diks was ruthlessly punished by Dries Mertens, who gave his side a 2-0 lead and left Feyenoord with a mountain to climb.
The visitors earned a chance to get back into the game midway through the second half when Berghuis was hauled down in the box. Jens Toornstra stepped up to the spot, only to see his penalty saved by Reina.
When José Callejon extended Napoli’s lead a minute later, after sloppy play from Tapia, the writing was on the wall for Feyenoord. The Peruvian was replaced not long after by Sven van Beek, who came on to make his first competitive appearance since 1 May 2016.
With four more rounds of Champions League Group F football to play, Feyenoord were focused on damage limitation in the last 20 minutes. They were able to keep the hosts at bay and even managed to grab a goal themselves in time added on at the end of the match. Sofyan Amrabat punched through the home defence, before beating Reina from close range to score Feyenoord’s first Champions League goal since 13 November 2002.