Feyenoord jetted out of Sandefjord airport within hours of Thursday evening’s match in Skien. The mood was upbeat, as the one-nil win meant the Rotterdam delegation have a great chance to now advance to the group stages of the Uefa Cup. ‘And that’s what it’s all about,’ stressed coach Ruud Gullit. ‘You can analyse this match to kingdom come, but in European football only one thing counts: the result. And that was good this evening. It’s that simple.’

Gullit found the encounter a good education for his young team. ‘They have now experienced how it is to play against an opponent that has a very opportunistic style. In the first half we didn’t handle it very well. Odd basically used the long ball the whole time and played a kind of combative football, which we found hard to counter. We gave the ball away a lot, which was one of the reasons why we lost the midfield battle and made things hard for ourselves. As a result I was unhappy about how we played before the break.’

Ono and Castelen both made an appearance in the second half and that changed the shape of the match. ‘I have to complement the team on the way it performed then. Everyone fought very hard, but the team also managed to adapt better and better to the style of the Norwegians. That meant we regained control over the midfield and so the game.’

Gullit admitted that a few of his players had an off day – without naming names – but he wasn’t about to expose anyone. ‘A couple of lads were playing today who haven’t been in the team for quite a while. You have to keep that in mind, because it’s not easy to come in for a European match after not playing for such a long time.’

Gullit was somewhat surprised that the media concentrated on the first forty-five minutes in the post-match conference. ‘Because I don’t think it’s warranted. Tactically, things should have been solved better before the break. But afterwards I thought my team played well. For me it was proof that this group is still growing step by step. I’ve now seen some players in action for the first time in a match against a difficult opponent. Some of them surprised me, others confirmed what I already thought.’

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