Feyenoord upsets Man United in Group A opener

The defeat marks further disappointment for United after last weekend's 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester City, which marked its first competitive loss under Jose Mourinho.

Published : Sep 16, 2016 01:25 IST , Rotterdam

Feyenoord's Tonny Vilhena celebrates after scoring a goal against Manchester United.
Feyenoord's Tonny Vilhena celebrates after scoring a goal against Manchester United.

Feyenoord's Tonny Vilhena celebrates after scoring a goal against Manchester United.

Tonny Vilhena proved Feyenoord's hero as it upset Manchester United to win its Europa League Group A opener 1-0 at De Kuip on Thursday.

In a lacklustre encounter in Rotterdam it was the host that earned a big three points through Vilhena's 79th minute goal, despite suspicions of offside in the build-up.

READ: >Mourinho: 'Harsh to judge United's fringe players'

The defeat marks further disappointment for United after last weekend's 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester City, which marked its first competitive loss under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese made eight changes from that loss and, despite boasting the likes of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, the visiting team failed to click and seldom troubled the host's defence.

And it was duly punished by a Feyenoord side flying this season, with Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men sitting top of the Eredivisie having won five from five. After a solid start to the Mourinho era, United is now under pressure for the first time and will seek a swift return to winning ways against Watford in the Premier League on Sunday.

Feyenoord saw plenty of the ball early doors and David de Gea had to get down low to hold onto a bending effort from Steven Berghuis. United's play was scrappy at times with lone striker Rashford guilty of a few misplaced passes and too often running into dead ends, while its midfield struggled for fluency.

The visiting missed the best chance of the half, though, when Matteo Darmian teed up Martial on the edge of the area, only for the France forward to fizz a half-volley past the right-hand post when he should have at least hit the target. But it was Feyenoord that finished the half stronger and Jens Toornstra disappointingly slashed wide from the right of the penalty area.

United initially started the second half with more intent, but soon reverted back to the more pedestrian tempo adopted in the opening 45 minutes. Feyenoord continued to probe and Karim El Ahmadi flashed a 25-yard effort wide of the left-hand post.

Pogba, who was largely ineffective, tried his luck from a similar distance but was also unsuccessful. Mourinho had seen enough and brought on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a bid to add some spark to United's attack.

The Sweden star almost made a swift impact from an Ashley Young free-kick, but just failed to make clean contact with the header on the stretch.

And United was undone in the 79th minute as the noise levels in De Kuip rose significantly. Nicolai Jorgensen may have been just offside when he was sent clear down the right and he cut back for Vilhena to provide a cool side-footed finish from just inside the penalty area that De Gea could not keep out.

The goal finally sparked a response from United and it piled forward in the closing stages but, despite a well-hit long-range free-kick from Ibrahimovic that was saved by Brad Jones, it proved a fruitless search for an equaliser.

Austin stars for Saints

Claude Puel got his first victory as Southampton manager as the Premier League side eased to a 3-0 home victory over Sparta Prague at St Mary's Stadium in Group K. The Frenchman was left fuming at the weekend when Southampton lost to a harsh injury-time penalty at Arsenal.

The boot was on the other foot this time when Costa was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball in the box when it struck his hand. Charlie Austin tucked away the spot-kick after just five minutes and then the striker headed in from a delicious outside-of-the boot cross from Cuco Martina to give the Saints a 2-0 half-time lead. Southampton easily held on in a drab second half and substitute Jay Rodriguez — on for Austin — stabbed home in injury time to seal a comfortable night's work.

Dundalk produces more heroics

Manchester United may have lost in the Netherlands, but Irish champion Dundalk came away with a 1-1 draw from its trip to AZ Alkmaar. IT looked to be heading for a defeat at the AFAS Stadion after Stijn Wuytens bravely headed AZ into a 61st-minute lead. Wuytens took a punch in the face from Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers as he attacked the ball and needed lengthy treatment before being taken off.

There looked to be no way back for Dundalk after captain Stephen O'Donnell was sent off for a second yellow, but substitute Ciaran Kilduff netted the equaliser with a minute to go in their Group D opener. It was a fine result for Stephen Kenny's side, which lost to Legia Warsaw in the Champions League play-offs. Next up for th team is a meeting with Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Dublin.

Zenit's stunning comeback

The performance of the night came in the other game in the group as former UEFA Cup winner Zenit St Petersburg stormed back from three goals down with less than a quarter of an hour remaining to beat Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-3 in Israel.

The host had appeared to be on easy street as two goals by Haris Medunjanin either side of a Vidar Orn Kjartansson header had them 3-0 in front. But Russian international Alexander Kokorin pulled one back on 77 minutes before Eli Dasa was red-carded for Maccabi. Substitute Mauricio further reduced the deficit and Giuliano equalised on 86 minutes, leaving plenty of time for the Montenegrin Luka Djordjevic to score the winner in injury time with a diving header.

Dream start for Sassuolo

While Inter Milan was beaten at home by Hapoel Be'er Sheva and both Roma and Fiorentina drew on the road, it was a great night for another Italian side. Sassuolo, appearing in Europe for the first time, started its Group F campaign with a rousing 3-0 home win against 2012 Europa League runners-up Athletic Bilbao. Teenage Spaniard Pol Lirola put Sassuolo ahead on the hour mark and they did not look back, Gregoire Defrel making it two on 75 minutes before Matteo Politano sealed the win.

Europa League group stage results on Thursday:

Group A

At Rotterdam, Netherlands:>Feyenoord (NED) 1 (Vilhena 79) Manchester United (ENG) 0

At Odessa, Ukraine:>Zorya Luhansk (UKR) 1 (Grechyshkin 52) Fenerbahce (TUR) 1 (Kjaer 90+5)

Group B

At Bern:>BSC Young Boys (SUI) 0 Olympiakos (GRE) 1 (Cambiasso 42)

At Nicosia:>APOEL (CYP) 2 (Vinicius 75, De Camargo 87) Astana (KAZ) 1 (Maksimovic 45+1)

Group C

At Mainz, Germany:>FSV Mainz 05 (GER) 1 (Bungert 57) Saint-Etienne (FRA) 1 (Beric 88)

At Brussels:>Anderlecht (BEL) 3 (Teodorczyk 14, Rafael 41-og, Capel 77) Qabala (AZE) 1 (Dabo 20)

Group D

At Alkmaar, Netherlands:>AZ Alkmaar (NED) 1 (Stijn Wuytens 61) Dundalk (IRL) 1 (Kilduff 89)

At Netanya, Israel:>Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR) 3 (Medunjanin 26, 70, Kjartansson 50) Zenit St Petersburg (RUS) 4 (Kokorin 77, Mauricio 84, Giuliano 86, Djordjevic 90+2)

Group E

At Bucharest:>Astra Giurgiu (ROU) 2 (Alibec 18, Sapunaru 74) Austria Vienna (AUT) 3 (Holzhauser 16-pen, Friesenbichler 33, Alexander Gruenwald 58)

At Plzen, Czech Republic:>Viktoria Plzen (CZE) 1 (Bakos 11) Roma (ITA) 1 (Perotti 4-pen)

Group F

At Reggio Emilia, Italy:>Sassuolo (ITA) 3 (Lirola 60, Defrel 75, Politano 82) Athletic Bilbao (ESP) 0

At Vienna:>Rapid Vienna (AUT) 3 (Schwab 51, Joelinton 59, Colley 60-og) Genk (BEL) 2 (Bailey 29, 90-pen)

Group G

At Athens:>Panathinaikos (GRE) 1 (Berg 5) Ajax (NED) 2 (Traore 34, Riedewald 67)

At Liege, Belgium:>Standard Liege (BEL) 1 (Dossevi 3) Celta Vigo (ESP) 1 (Rossi 13)

Group H

At Konya, Turkey:>Konyaspor (TUR) 0 Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) 1 (Ferreyra 76)

At Braga, Portugal:>Sporting Braga (ESP) 1 (Andre Pinto 24) Gent (BEL) 1 (Milicevic 6)

Group I

At Salzburg, Austria:>FC Salzburg (AUT) 0 FK Krasnodar (RUS) 1 (Joaozinho 37)

At Nice, France:> Nice (FRA) 0 Schalke (GER) 1 (Baba Rahman 75)

Group J

At Baku:>Qarabag (AZE) 2 (Michel 7, Sadygov 90+4) Liberec (CZE) 2 (Sykora 1, Baros 68)

At Thessaloniki, Greece:>PAOK (GRE) 0 Fiorentina (ITA) 0

Group K

At Milan, Italy:>Inter Milan (ITA) 0 Hapoel Be'er Sheva (ISR) 2 (Miguel Vitor 54, Buzaglo 69)

At Southampton, England:>Southampton (ENG) 3 (Austin 5-pen, 27, Rodriguez 90+2) Sparta Prague (CZE) 0

Group L

At Ankara:>Osmanlispor (TUR) 2 (Diabate 64-pen, Umar 74) Steaua Bucharest (ROU) 0

At Vila-real, Spain:>Villarreal (ESP) 2 (Pato 28, Jonathan dos Santos 45+1) FC Zurich (SUI) 1 (Sadiku 2)

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