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Feyenoord through to UECL group stage despite reverse

Feyenoord secured their spot in the group stage of the Europa Conference League in Sweden on Thursday. Last week’s 5-0 win against Elfsborg at De Kuip had all but wrapped up qualification, but the Borås side did their best to make the second leg exciting, running out 3-1 winners.

In the lead-up to the tie, Coach Arne Slot acknowledged that his men could be in for a tough evening at the Borås Arena. There was a risk that the five-goal cushion would affect how they approached the game. Slot hoped that he would see a mature performance in the second leg and so it proved to be.

Feyenoord closed Elfsborg down from kick-off, their pressing game allowing the hosts no time to build from the back. In possession the visitors played the ball around well, always looking for the man in space and an opening for an effort on goal. The biggest chance fell to Guus Til. Fed by Luis Sinisterra he shot against the bar. 

The hosts started to get a firmer foothold in the game as the half wore on and even managed to edge ahead before the break. Johan Larsson netted from a free kick. Elfsborg doubled their lead soon after the break through Alexander Bernhardsson, capitalising on a quickly taken throw-in. But Til cut the deficit in half again on 61 minutes, with Sinisterra claiming a fine assist.

The hosts were not ready to give up the ghost, though. Marokhy Ndione’s shot was deflected in by Marcus Pedersen to make it 3-1. A defeat on the night then, but one that will stick in the memory of both Ridgeciano Haps and Mimeirhel Benita. For Haps because it was his hundredth competitive appearance for Feyenoord; for the 17-year-old Benita because he came on for his first in Feyenoord colours.

Otherwise, it was a loss without any great consequences, as Feyenoord confirmed their place in the group stage of the Europa Conference League. The club find out who their opponents will be in the six group matches when the draw is made on Friday. On the pitch, the next encounter is scheduled for this Sunday, when Feyenoord travel to FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie.