Feyenoord Under 19s advance in Youth League after exciting finish

Feyenoord Under 19s reached the last sixteen of the UEFA Youth League in spectacular fashion on Tuesday. Coaching team Cor Adriaanse, Arnold Scholten and Ulrich van Gobbel saw their side take the lead after 20 minutes in an exciting play-off against FC Nitra, before falling behind and then fighting back at the death to win 3-2.

The first chance on a clammy Slovakian afternoon fell to Feyenoord within a minute. Rodney Huijgen broke to latch onto a smart through-ball, but Nitra keeper Balaži was quick to get off his line and he stopped the shot with his legs. The visitors continued to press, creating a couple of minor chances, including a shot from Achraf El Bouchataoui and a header from Wouter Burger, which the keeper safely gathered. The goal finally came on 20 minutes. Burger played it back to Orkun Kökcü, who turned away from his marker to score from close range.

Conceding the first goal brought a response from the hosts, who started to press more without really threatening. Even so, the leveller arrived around the half-hour mark. Marek Fábry’s shot went in at the far post. Feyenoord seemed to regain their composure after the setback, but were sucker-punched before the break. Towering striker Fábry out-jumped all-comers to head FC Nitra in front against the run of play.

Feyenoord began the second half with Daudé van der Kust replacing Huijgen on the right, but it was Fábry who was close to his third of the day on 48 minutes, with keeper Van Leeuwen denying him from close range. The ball fell to Rybanksky, whose effort was blocked and cleared by Boyd Reith. Feyenoord countered immediately, creating a big chance, but Kökcü’s shot went over.

The game continued to switch from end to end, but it become increasingly clear that Feyenoord were the better footballing side. The Slovaks continued to put up stubborn resistance, though, and were ever alert to the possibilities of catching their visitors on the break.

With 20 minutes left Cor Adriaanse decided to make an attacking change, with striker Joel Zwarts coming on for Noah Lewis. Feyenoord’s hard work was rewarded not long after. A clever back heel from Cheick Touré found the excellent Kökcü, who netted the equaliser.

The remainder of the match saw Feyenoord camped in Nitra’s half, but the visitors had to wait until the 90th minute before they made the breakthrough they were looking for. Wouter Burger scored from the edge of the penalty area to bring cheers from the travelling Feyenoord support.

There were still two minutes of injury time to play, however, and the hosts almost claimed a third themselves, when Reith went close to putting it into his own net. In the end though, Feyenoord were able to protect their lead and the Czech referee’s whistle brought an explosion of joy from the players.

Feyenoord Under 19s now look forward to Friday’s draw for the last sixteen of the UEFA Youth League, to be played on 20 or 21 February.

FC Nitra U19s – Feyenoord U19s 2-3 (2-1)
20’ 0-1 Kökcü
31’ 1-1 Fábry
41’ 2-1 Fábry
72’ 2-2 Kökcü
90’ 2-3 Burger

Referee: Ardeleánu (Tsje)

Feyenoord U19s: Van Leeuwen; Reith, Lewis (68’ Zwarts), Geertruida, Smeulers; El Bouchataoui, Wehrmann, Kökcü; Huijgen (46’ Van der Kust), Touré, Burger.
FC Nitra U19s: Balaži, Paľo, Rybanský, Koša, Straňák, Pajer, Fábry, Fabiš, Guláš, Macho, Dojčinovič (69’ Sádovský).

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