Feyenoord starts Champions League play with 2-0 win over 9-man Celtic
Feyenoord kicked off their Champions League campaign in Group E with a decisive 2-0 win against Celtic. The Rotterdam club started off sloppy, but wound up winning the match at home, helped by Celtic drawing two red cards in the last 30 minute of play. Nevertheless, some Feyenoord fans caused unrest around their stadium, with one video journalist assaulted over the course of the evening.
Feyenoord is playing in the Champions League for the first time since 2017. That season, the team only managed to win one group match, leading to their elimination from Europe’s highest league.
The frenetic first half was played with Celtic keeping the ball in Feyenoord’s end more often as the Rotterdammers grew more comfortable. Trainer Slot said his team was nervous at the beginning. Yankuba Minteh started as a striker instead of as a winger, with Ayase Ueda sitting the match out due to an injury. Santiago Giménez was also suspended as the result of a red card last season in European play.
Minteh managed a long strike that Celtic keeper Joe Hart pushed over the bar in the first half, the team’s best chance until a minute into stoppage time. A free kick from Calvin Stengs just under 30 meters out bent around Celtic’s wall, and hit the back of the net to put Feyenoord up 1-0 at halftime.
Celtic coach Brendan Rodgers said he was disappointed his defense could not contend with the free kick. He said the players on the pitch did not properly set up the wall in the first place, a mistake that proved to be fatal.
Feyenoord came out aggressively in the second half, but missed passes on offense meant there were few scoring opportunities. Then in the 65th minute, Celtic Back Gustaf Lagerbielke was sent off with his second yellow for his tackle against Feyenoord’s Igor Paixão in the box, who ultimately missed the penalty chance with a poor shot at the keeper.
Minutes later, Celtic went down to nine men when Odin Thiago Holm was shown a straight red card for a reckless tackle against midfielder Mats Wieffer. Feyenoord’s Lutsharel Geertruida appeared to double the Rotterdam team’s lead on the resulting free kick, but the video referee ruled he was barely offsides on the play.
Six minutes later, Alireza Jahanbakhsh made it 2-0 in the 76th minute with a hard strike into the roof of the goal after the ball hit his feet at close range on a deflection. Another opportunity to make it 3-0 was waived off for being offsides.
Feyenoord took three points in the home match, but may have lost Croatian player Luka Ivanusec for the time being due to an injury in the 89th minute.
“After the first half, which was not our best of the season, we were still able to turn it into an exciting match. I liked that we no longer played with fear, but with personality,” Slot said after the match. He believed the victory to be incredibly important, but definitely saw room for improvement.
"It is difficult to calculate how many points you need to advance, but you will at least have to win your home games. We made a good start with that today."
Arrests before the match
Hundreds of Feyenoord supporters marched from the city center to De Kuip for the Rotterdam team’s first match in the Champions League. Broadcaster Rijnmond followed the procession to record the atmosphere but stopped the live stream after one of the supporters assaulted the cameraman.
The police arrested four people during the march, including one minor. Two were arrested for throwing fireworks, and two for violating the opium law.