Feyenoord end Champions League campaign with a win
Feyenoord came from behind against Napoli to record their first win in this season’s Champions League at De Kuip on Wednesday. Head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side conceded early but fought back to equalise through Nicolai Jørgensen before the break. Jeremiah St. Juste managed to bag the winner in injury time to secure the three points and wrap up the European adventure in style.
Just like in the group match against Manchester City, Feyenoord were down a goal within two minutes. Piotr Zielinski’s free kick beat Kenneth Vermeer, who had been handed the goalkeeping duties by Van Bronckhorst after a long stretch on the sidelines.
But Feyenoord immediately showed that they had learned from the five previous Champions League Group F matches. Manchester City were able to race into a three-goal lead earlier in the season, but this time Feyenoord were in no mood to be rolled over. The hosts fought hard to get back into the match and the reward came after the half-hour mark. Nicolai Jørgensen got his head to a Steven Berghuis cross to guide the ball into the net at the far corner to equalise.
Napoli seemed to be knocked off balance by the goal and Feyenoord could perhaps have edged ahead within a minute. First the Italians just managed to scramble away Sofyan Amrabat’s cross; then Jens Toornstra saw a shot deflected just wide for a corner. Jørgensen tried his luck next – Pepe Reina had to work hard to bat the ball away before it crossed the line.
Tyrell Malacia was also showing he could play at Champions League level. The 18-year-old left-back was handed his official Feyenoord debut after Miquel Nelom was ruled out late on. Malacia performed well against the Serie A side, even pushing forward on occasions to float in a promising cross or two. At the back, the youngster harvested applause when he cut a dangerous Italian attack in the bud ten minutes into the second half
As the clicked ticked down, Feyenoord seemed to be more concerned with protecting the point they already had. The home side played a compact and disciplined defensive game, giving Napoli very little to play with. And when Tonny Vilhena was shown his second yellow card of the night with eight minutes left the match looked certain to end all square.
Jeremiah St. Juste had other ideas, though. The match was into injury time when the defender headed in from a corner to send the home crowd into raptures. Feyenoord’s first win in the 2017-18 Champions League was a fact.