Feyenoord kicked off the Eredivisie season at FC Utrecht Sunday with a fine 3-0 victory. Luigi Bruins, Nicky Hofs and Roy Makaay grabbed the goals, while Makaay also claimed two assists. Less satisfactory for coach Van Marwijk was the premature loss of Andwelé Slory, who had to be substituted after just seventeen minutes following a collision with keeper Franck Grandel. Both teams played in black armbands in memory of Ad Zonderland, the recently deceased former Feyenoord coach and FC Utrecht chairman.

Good form in preseason is no guarantee of a good start in the Eredivisie, a fact that was underscored at Galgenwaard in the early stages of the new campaign. Coach Van Marwijk lost Kevin Hofland in the run-up to the game, while Andwelé Slory was forced out of action within fifteen minutes of kick off. Given the recent departure of Royston Drenthe, Van Marwijk was left with an immediate puzzle to solve. Robbed of his wingers and long-pass specialist Hofland, the coach was left to ponder how to get the best out of target man Roy Makaay.

With that in mind, it was perhaps not so strange that Feyenoord were slow out of the starting blocks in Utrecht. The hosts might indeed have taken an early lead if they have been more fortunate in front of goal. Robin Nelisse found himself with only Henk Timmer to beat early doors, only to be denied by the keeper’s foot. A minute later Tim Cornelisse broke through in the penalty box, skipping past an attempted tackle by Bruins, but Ron Vlaar was able to clear the home defender’s effort off the line.

After that somewhat shaky start Feyenoord started to take control. The Rotterdammers were playing in a compact formation, keeping possession for protracted periods but without creating any real chances.

Things changed on 25 minutes when Makaay played the ball down to Bruins, who let fly, finding the net although keeper Franck Grandel might have been expected to keep the effort out.

The goal knocked the hosts sideways and Feyenoord began to tighten their control against Willem van Hanegem’s side. It resulted in two dangerous chances before the break. The first came on 33 minutes when Hofs shot wide after a layoff by Makaay. Six minutes later Hofs was the final link in the chain as Feyenoord broke from their own half. The ball passed Lucius, Buijs, Lucius again and Makaay before reaching Hofs, who should have finished the move off by finding the net, but he managed to put it wide again.

Tim de Cler was more successful at finding the target at the start of the second half, after he was put through by Giovanni van Bronckhorst, but Utrecht’s substitute keeper Michel Vorm was able to keep the ball out.

Vorm had little chance on 62 minutes however. Hofs raced onto a clever through-ball from Makaay, managing to round the home goalie and tap into an empty net for the second goal of the afternoon.

That all but wrapped up the match as a contest. Feyenoord were happy enough to play a contained game without the need to take risks going forward. The home side were certainly up for it, but not really up to it, as the Rotterdammers immediately sniffed out any offensive spark from Utrecht.

In fact, when the third goal did come it went to Feyenoord. This time it was Hofs who turned creator, playing in Makaay. The Dutch international made no mistake with his first shot of the game to round out a comprehensive victory for Bert van Marwijk’s side.

FC Utrecht – Feyenoord 0-3
25’ 0-1 Bruins
62’ 0-2 Hofs
86’ 0-3 Makaay

Bookings: Hofs, Van Bronckhorst, George
Referee: Braamhaar

Feyenoord: Timmer; Lucius, Vlaar, Bahia, De Cler; Sahin, Hofs, Van Bronckhorst; Slory (17’ D. Buijs), Makaay, Bruins
FC Utrecht: Grandel (46’ Vorm); Cornelisse, Dickoh, Keller, Pieters; Caluwé, Van Dijk, Broerse; George (65’ Maayen), Nelisse, Sanmartean (69’ Vandenbergh)

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