Feyenoord narrowly lost the final of the Conference League on Wednesday. The team of trainer Arne Slot went down 1-0 against AS Roma in the Albanian capital Tirana.
The only goal of the final was scored after more than half an hour of play by Nicolò Zaniolo, who escaped offside and took advantage of an error of judgment by Feyenoord defender Gernot Trauner.
Feyenoord were close to equalizing twice in the second half, but Trauner (from a corner) and Tyrell Malacia (long shot) saw their attempt hit the post. Slot’s team did not get any further than that, although substitute Bryan Linssen missed the ball in a very promising position just before the end.
With the lost final for Feyenoord a disappointing end to a fairytale season in the Conference League. The Rotterdammers reached the final of a European tournament for the first time since the UEFA Cup win in 2002 by beating Olympique Marseille, among others.
AS Roma win a European title for the first time in club history and take the first prize since the Coppa Italia in 2008. For coach Jose Mourinho it is the 26th trophy in his career. The Portuguese won all five European finals in which he was active as a coach.
Roma strikes after Trauner mistake
Feyenoord lived for weeks en masse for the final in Tirana and the yearning for a new top prize was audible and palpable in Air Albania Stadium. The players were welcomed in the small stadium with fireworks, banners and singing before kick-off, although the atmosphere before kick-off was marred by several fights in the stands between fans of Feyenoord and AS Roma.
With the recovered Justin Bijlow under the bar, the team of trainer Slot did not seem to be bothered by the tension in the initial phase: the Rotterdam team took the initiative from the kick-off and played football more easily than AS Roma, which suffered a striking amount of ball loss. The dominance did not lead to opportunities, however.
Feyenoord got a windfall after fifteen minutes of play. Roma playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan fell to the ground with an injury and was unable to continue. The game of the team of the Rotterdammers just didn’t get any better. Especially in the front Feyenoord was powerless.
Mourinho’s Roma lurked on the counter and struck in the 32nd minute thanks to a mistake by Trauner. The defender, who is usually so reliable at Feyenoord, misjudged a high pass from Gianluca Mancini and then saw Zaniolo make the 1-0 with a nice bounce over Bijlow. It was AS Roma’s first shot on goal. Feyenoord could only counter that with a long shot from Orkun Kökçü before half-time.
Paal prevents two Feyenoord hits
Despite the deficit, Feyenoord came out of the dressing room far from dejected. Slot’s team started the second half furiously and was close to the equalizer more than a minute after the break.
Trauner crawled in front of his man at a corner and saw his striker hit the post. In the rebound, Guus Til encountered Roma goalkeeper Rui Patrício. The VAR then looked at a handball from Bryan Cristante, but ruled that there was no question of deliberate hands.
Less than two minutes later, the post again prevented Feyenoord from scoring. After a flowing attack, Fredrik Aursnes laid the ball with his heel for the detached Malacia, who played devastatingly. Patrício tapped the ball against the aluminum with his fingertips.
Feyenoord continued to take the initiative against the conservative playing Roma, but did not manage to break through the defensive positions of the number six of the Serie A. On the other hand, Jordan Veretout and Lorenzo Pellegrini were still close to making it 2-0, but their shots were turned by Bijlow. Because a final offensive by Feyenoord did not get off the ground, the club was left empty-handed in Tirana.