The Champions League finalists had the best of the opening exchanges, and Steven Gerrard looking dangerous with two efforts on goal.
Dirk Kuyt arrived in Rotterdam with a desire to show the Feyenoord fans how much he had learned in his year at Liverpool and the Dutch international started well. The match was seven minutes old when he shot just over from just inside the box and eight minutes later Kuyt appeared to have broken the deadlock when he smashed in a drive that came off the underside of the bar and seemed to cross the line. It all happened too fast for referee Vink and his assistant with the flag however and play was waved on.
At the other end, Feyenoord were again having problems in the final third. Most of the home side’s balls came to Andwelé Slory on the right flank, but the winger was not finding it easy to get past Riise. The one time Slory did manage to shake off the Norwegian he was unable to keep his composure – or his balance – as Reina came out to challenge him to an incoming ball.
The hosts did however begin to find their feet and gradually started looking more and more threatening around the Liverpool penalty area. The lively Drenthe was causing some concern with his sprightly sprints, while Slory too was increasingly getting into his stride. Jonathan de Guzman was the first to try his luck. His free kick was securely caught by Reina.
The breakthrough came just before the break when Feyenoord took the lead and it was a goal made and executed by those three. De Guzman played a superb ball in front of Slory to run onto and the winger danced past Riise on the right before slipping the ball past Reina at the near stick. The youngster’s effort hit the post, but ran out to Drenthe who tapped the ball home.
On the other side of the break the Liverpool fans were treated to more action at their end, this time with their side on the attack. Sherif Ekramy did well to turn Xabi Alonso’s impressive shot around the post for a corner.
Liverpool were clearly intent on avoiding defeat, as Benitez decided to throw on Torres, which resulted in a great del of pressure on the Feyenoord defence, yet real chances were few and far between. Until 72 minutes that is, when Danny Buijs and Theo Lucius were both caught napping as Gerrard ran through to level things with a fine finish.
The Merseysiders were clearly not satisfied with a draw, and both Alonso and Ryan Babel tested Ekramy, although the goal almost came at the other end when Bruins profited from a lack of concentration in the Liverpool defence. Reina managed to get in the way of the youngster’s effort and the ball fell to Nicky Hofs, but the substitute’s shot lacked power and precision.
Feyenoord were awarded a penalty with just a few minutes left on the clock after referee Vink decided that Drenthe’s cross had been handled. After mass protests from the visitors Bruins lined up behind the ball, but Reina got his fists to the spot kick.
There was even time for Makaay to rattle in a last-gasp free kick that was thundering towards the Liverpool goal until Reina again managed to get his hands to the ball and the game ended all square. Feyenoord – Liverpool 1-1
44’ 1-0 Drenthe
72’ 1-1 Gerrard
Remarks: Bruins penalty miss (87’)
Bookings: Buijs, Lucius, Drenthe, Kewell, Pennant, Arbeloa, Alonso
Referee: Vink Feyenoord:
Ekramy; Lucius, Vlaar, Bahia, De Cler; Sahin (46’ D. Buijs), Van Bronckhorst, De Guzman (78’ Hofs); Slory (46’ Bruins), Makaay, Drenthe Liverpool:
Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Riise; Pennant (64’ Torres), Gerrard (90’ Sissoko), Kewell (55’ Babel), Alonso (83’ Mascherano); Voronin (79’ Benayoun), Kuyt