SEASON OVER FOR FEYENOORD

Feyenoord’s season was brought to an abrupt end Sunday when FC Groningen grabbed the draw they needed to go through to the Uefa Cup playoff final at the expense of the Rotterdammers. Defending a 2-1 lead from the first leg, the visitors secured their advancement and Feyenoord’s elimination when Goran Lovre netted on 73 minutes to cancel out Pierre van Hooijdonk’s first-half strike for the hosts in a game that saw Pieter Collen return to the starting line-up for the first time in nine months.

The De Kuip stadium was just half full went the match got underway, which was certainly not how Van Hooijdonk had dreamed of finishing his Feyenoord playing career, but it did not reduce the big man’s desire to sign off with a bang. And he didn’t have to wait too long for an opportunity as Feyenoord were awarded a free kick in an attractive position after seven minutes. Van Hooijdonk stepped up to try his famous trick and duly netted to release an explosion of joy. It was actually not one of the striker’s prettiest efforts, and keeper Brian van Loo should have anticipated the bounce that took the ball out of his reach and over the line, but it did put Feyenoord back in the driving seat.

Feyenoord were happy to keep their lead intact through to the break, although FC Groningen did go close to equalising a couple of times, only to be denied by the aluminium on both occasions. The first came when Collen misjudged a Luis Suárez cross, only to see Timmer push the ball onto the bar and over. The second came when Erik Nevland rattled in a shot that Timmer again managed to parry onto the bar.

Groningen’s most dangerous player was Suárez, but it was Evgeniy Levchenko who almost grabbed the leveller after a virtual scrum in the box. At the other end, Alfred Schreuder drove over.

Feyenoord were unable to apply much pressure before the break, but they were plenty threatening in the second half of the game. Beenhakker’s side pushed their opponents back and created opportunities for Castelen. Van Loo parried the first out for a corner within a minute of the restart. Sixty seconds later the right-winger had a second shot, which this time went just wide.

As a result of the early chances the match developed into an attractive spectacle after the break, with attacks from both sides. The visitors were not really threatening Timmer’s goal however until Royston Drenthe misjudged a high ball with a quarter of an hour remaining and Lovre was left with a clear run on the keeper. Timmer had no chance with the finish as Lovre brought his side level.

Beenhakker responded by bringing on Angelos Charisteas for Alfred Schreuder, as Feyenoord went in search of the goal that would level the tie. Yet it was the visitors who did most of the threatening in the closing minutes. Suárez might have given his side the lead near the end, but the striker shot wide.

Charisteas did get the ball into the net at the other end in injury time, but referee Haverkort signalled that Bahia had fouled Van Loo and the goal was ruled out. It all meant that a sub-standard season came to an abrupt end for Feyenoord.

Feyenoord – FC Groningen 1-1
7’ 1-0 Van Hooijdonk
73’ 1-1 Lovre

Bookings: Drenthe, Meerdink, Levchenko, Sankoh, Van de Laak, Fledderus
Referee: Haverkort

Feyenoord: Timmer; Collen, Vlaar, Bahia, Drenthe; Buijs, Lucius, Schreuder (75’ Charisteas); Castelen, Van Hooijdonk, Huysegems (63’ Hofs)
FC Groningen: Van Loo; Silva, Sankoh, Kruiswijk, Van der Linden; Meerdink (56’ Van de Laak), Matthijs (77’ Svejdik), Lovre, Levchenko (56’ Fledderus); Suárez, Nevland
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