Liverpool fans’ favourite Dirk Kuyt enjoyed putting one over Manchester United last night as Feyenoord secured a memorable Europa League victory.
Jose Mourinho’s men arrived in Rotterdam as overriding favourites for the Group A opener, yet they left Holland reeling from a bruising 1-0 defeat.
Tonny Vilhena’s late strike had those inside De Kuip bouncing and gave Kuyt, who played the full game in central midfield, another memory to cherish against United.
The 36-year-old enjoyed six years at north-west rivals Liverpool and netted a hat-trick in a 3-1 defeat of United in March 2011.
“This is a night not to forget quickly,” he said. “The crowd was great and that resulted in a lovely atmosphere at De Kuip.
“The club, Feyenoord, belongs in Europe. If you do it on an evening against a top team as Manchester United, that gives a wonderful feeling.
“Beforehand I said to the boys, ‘If we go all out and they play five per cent less then we can win’.
“We fought in the contest. I must give a huge compliment to the team for the fight that we had up to the last minute. This is a wonderful start to the tournament.”
Kuyt was not the only former Liverpool player in the Feyenoord ranks as goalkeeper Brad Jones helped keep United at bay, while former Aston Villa midfielder Karim El Ahmadi starred at the heart of the side.
“I played with Aston Villa also some games against Manchester United and they are good with the ball,” he said.
“But I think today we were very good physically and they didn’t create a lot.
“Manchester United tried to play some good football, but we didn’t let them play, so I think that’s a good thing from us.
“We were shown the games before from Manchester United, when they played against Hull City and other teams.
“We saw the opponents had time on the ball and to play, so that’s why we had some belief to do something.
“In the second half they looked a little bit stronger than us, but we are very happy to win.”
El Ahmadi bossed the midfield and left world-record signing Paul Pogba feeding off scraps.
“No, no – I think he showed some class today,” he said smiling when asked if the Frenchman was still in his back pocket. I tried to not let him play a lot and it was good.
“It was very nice to play against Paul Pogba – he is one of the best midfielders in the world.
“It was for me a good challenge to play against him and I am lucky to win.”