After giving away a penalty in the first half, Mats Wieffer scored the winner to give hosts Feyenoord a 1-0 home victory over AS Roma in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday.
In the 53rd minute, Wieffer struck a bouncing half-volley from outside the box to give the Dutch league leaders a narrow lead heading into the return leg in the Italian capital.
It turned the night into a triumph for the 23-year-old, who was capped for the first time last month by the Netherlands after conceding a penalty for tripping Roma striker Tammy Abraham.
Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini, on the other hand, missed a penalty in the 43rd minute, hitting the post and wasting a potentially crucial goal in a tightly contested tie at the Feyenoord Stadium.
Wieffer’s goal was set up by an incisive run down the left by winger Oussama Idrissi.
“I’m always told I should shoot from a distance more often. This time I had some time to think and I thought: ‘I’ll just shoot, even if it goes out of the stadium’. Maybe I should do it more often, it went in nicely,” Wieffer told reporters.
Both Feyenoord skipper, Orkun Kokcu, and Lutsharel Geertruida, had good chances to add to the home side’s score, while Roma were denied an equaliser by the slimmest of margins, nine minutes after conceding.
Defender Roger Ibanez’s header hit the underside of the bar but goalline technology ruled that his effort had not completely crossed the line.
Roma suffered two serious injury setbacks after Paulo Dybala went off early, followed in second half by Abraham, who suffered a shoulder injury.
“Of course, we had opportunities, but football is not about chances; it’s about scoring goals,” said Roma coach Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho’s team beat Feyenoord 1-0 in the final of the inaugural Europa Conference League last season.
The second leg is next Thursday at Rome’s Olympic Stadium.
The winners meet either Bayer Leverkusen of Germany or Belgian club Union Saint Gilloise in the semi-finals. (Reuters/NAN)
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