TIRANA (Reuters) – Feyenoord captain Justin Bijlow said they missed the chance to put the club back on the map after their first appearance in a European final in 20 years ended in deep disappointment as they lost having dominated against AS Roma on Wednesday.
The Dutch club, who won the UEFA Cup in 2002, were beaten 1-0 in the inaugural Europa Conference League final as a defensive slip allowed Nicolo Zaniolo to snatch a 32nd-minute winner.
“This is terrible. We really wanted to take the cup with us, to thank the supporters and to put Feyenoord back on the map. Unfortunately it didn’t work out like that,” said goalkeeper Bijlow.
Defender Gernot Trauner missed a cross from Gianluca Mancini into the Feyenoord box, allowing Zaniolo behind him to score from close range.
“We did almost everything right for 19 games and now one mistake saw us punished. That hurts a lot,” said striker Cyriel Dessers.
“But at times we played near perfectly. We can hardly blame ourselves.”
Feyenoord hit the woodwork twice and forced Roma into a stout defensive display after halftime.
“They were ruthless. Even when the ball wasn’t close, I was getting elbows,” Dessers said.
Bijlow said Feyenoord applied plenty of pressure and caused Roma difficulties.
“You saw they had trouble dealing with us. But unfortunately it wasn’t good enough. It’s a bit of cliche, but it was 20 years ago that we last played in a European final. That sounds nice, but it is true. But for now it’s especially terrible that we can’t take the cup to Rotterdam.”
Coach Arne Slot tried to soften the blow for his players after the match.
“I told them I couldn’t take the disappointment away from them, but I also said that it was a privilege to work with this team every day this season,” he said.
“There hasn’t been a day that we haven’t enjoyed being on the training field together.”
(Writing by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)