A Feyenoord win against the Croats would have seen them progress to the knock-out phase with a game to spare if CSKA Moscow had also clocked up a win at home to Wolfsberger AC. But that would not be easy, as Dinamo Zagreb had shown themselves to be tough cookies.
Dinamo Zagreb arrived at De Kuip top of the group with eight points from four matches and no goals against. That showed how organised the Croatian side were and Feyenoord did find them difficult to break down on Thursday evening. The challenge didn’t get any easier for the hosts when they lost their main front man after a little over half an hour.
Bryan Linssen injured his upper thigh stretching to keep the ball from going out of play. He’d started as Feyenoord’s main striker in the absence of the suspended Nicolai Jørgensen, but when he instinctively reached for his hamstring it was clear the game was up for him. Naoufal Bannis came on in his place. Late in the half Uros Spajic was also forced off, suffering a bad head injury in an aerial tussle.
Unsure about the extent of Spajic’s injury, Feyenoord finished the half with ten men, but the visitors took immediate advantage to edge ahead before the break. Deep into the final stages of the half Orkun Kökcü was punished for a challenge in the box. Bruno Petkovic slotted the resulting penalty past Nick Marsman.
Anticlimactic second half
The hosts were unable to claw their way back into the game after the break. In fact, their task was made even harder on 52 minutes. The visitors’ second goal came courtesy of Lovro Majer. Marsman managed to get a hand to his shot, though not enough to keep it out. Feyenoord’s biggest chance came through Bannis. Steven Berghuis laid the ball off to the youngster, but he skied it from just a metre out.
Despite the reverse, Feyenoord stay in the hunt for the Europa League knock-out stages. A win at Wolfsberger AC next week will secure passage. The Austrians are currently in second after a 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow, which eliminated the Russians. Feyenoord are third two points behind their next opponents.
- Uros Spajic