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Painful Europa League night for Feyenoord at empty De Kuip

Feyenoord lost the season’s first home Europa League match on Thursday night. Austrian side Wolfsberger AC were too strong for Dick Advocaat’s men in front of empty De Kuip stands, running out 4-1 winners. Three of the visitors’ goals came from debateable penalties.

The hosts got off to the worst possible start. Referee Srdjan Jovanovic awarded a spot kick to the visitors within three minutes. He decided that Eric Botteghin had hauled down his man, but the TV pictures were inconclusive. As the Rotterdam rain spat down on the empty stadium seats, Wolfsberger captain Michael Liendl stepped up to convert.

Liendl doubled his tally ten minutes later, again from the penalty spot. This time Jovanovic punished Bart Nieuwkoop for what looked like a nothing challenge. The Feyenoord man was shown a yellow card – as Botteghin had been earlier – and Liendl beat Justin Bijlow from the spot, this time placing the time to the right, after finding the left-hand corner ten minutes earlier.

Feyenoord better after the break
Wolfsberger AC had two contentious penalties to thank for their half-time lead, but Feyenoord found it hard to get a grip on their opponents or find any rhythm whatsoever in the opening 45 minutes. The hosts only really started to find their feet after the break. Their reward came relatively early. Luciano Narsingh, on for Nieuwkoop at the start of the second half, got to the bye-line on 53 minutes, passing to Steven Berghuis, who netted with a hard shot as the ball bobbled up.

Lutsharel Geertruida saw a shot hit a post and a header go just wide, while Bryan Linssen had his effort blocked by the keeper as Feyenoord looked to level. But when it did arrive, the next goal came at the other end. An incisive Austrian counter was finished clinically by Liendl for his third of the night, after Bijlow had saved an initial effort.

Another controversial decision
Bijlow was beaten for the fourth time on 66 minutes, as the visitors benefited from another penalty award. Bijlow was well out of his goal to clear a cross, but he came into contact with an Austrian in the process. Jovanovic pointed straight to the spot. Liendl seemed to have had enough of scoring, leaving the conversion to Dejan Joveljic, who made no mistake.

The three-goal deficit proved too much for Feyenoord to claw back from. The hosts lost any zip and ended the match as poorly as they had started it.

Feyenoord’s next turn in the Europa League comes next Thursday, again at De Kuip, when CSKA Moscow are the visitors. Before that, there’s a trip to De Oude Meerdijk in FC Emmen in the Eredivisie on Sunday, kick off 14:30 CET.