Giovanni van Bronckhorst scarcely recognised his own team in Sunday’s 0-2 defeat to Fortuna Sittard. The loss brought to ...
The season ended two games early for Feyenoord Sunday with defeat to Ajax at De Kuip in the second leg of the playoff semi-final. The Rotterdammers will now participate in the Uefa Cup following the painful 2-7 aggregate defeat at the hands of their bitterest rivals. The visitors played a cagey counter-based game at De Kuip, leaving Feyenoord open to a number of sucker punches that were skilfully executed by Mauro Rosales, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Nourdin Boukhari and Nicolae Mitea. Dirk Kuyt bagged two goals for the home side.
Feyenoord’s hopes were pinned on an early goal and it certainly looked possible as the home side were egged on by some passionate support. Patrick Paauwe was the first home player to test Maarten Stekelenburg, but the Ajax keeper was able to hold on to the veteran’s effort. A minute later it was Sebastián Pardo who found himself with a fantastic opportunity to get the Rotterdam train moving. Fed by Salomon Kalou, the Chilean placed his shot in the near corner, but as the crowd rose to celebrate the goal the ball passed by the post on the wrong side.
It proved to be a pivotal moment in the tie. Ajax had adopted a very defensive attitude up to that point, but suddenly the Amsterdammers started to test their attacking options. Rosales was the first to have an attempt on goal, although his shot lacked precision, veering wide. The game was seventeen minutes old by then.
Kalou went close on a couple of occasions, but it was not enough to rattle the Ajax defence. Unfortunately the rattling came at the other end and it signalled Feyenoord’s pending collapse. With 33 minutes on the clock Rosales was given all the space in the world by Pascal Bosschaart to prepare himself optimally before heading Ajax into the lead. With Feyenoord now needing an improbable five goals to reach the playoff final the game was effectively all over, but if the Rotterdammers thought things couldn’t get any worse, they were proven wrong six minutes before half time when Huntelaar’s diagonal shot beat Lodewijks to double the visitors’ lead.
Right on half time Kalou had a chance to get his name on the score sheet, after Van Hooijdonk had had two efforts on goal, but the Ivorian hit the post with his effort, to the general dismay and disbelief of all.
Backed by an assailable aggregate lead the visitors were able to play with real freedom and Rosenberg went close to extending the lead straight after the restart, only to see his shot hit the post. The goal wasn’t so long in coming however, because Boukhari wrapped up a fine Ajax counter on 50 minutes by nodding in a ball by Angelos Charisteas to make it a painful 6-0 over the two games.
Led by Dirk Kuyt Feyenoord attempted to salvage a little pride in the face of imminent elimination. They did so without Bosschaart, who had been replaced by Royston Drenthe at the start of the second half. And Rotterdam industry paid off in a goal just short of the hour mark by Kuyt himself, whose shot was too hard for Stekelenburg.
Kuyt looked to double his return not long after, but his header rattled against the top of the bar. Despite the miss, the Kuip fans showed their appreciation for the striker with a chant demanding Kuyt’s stay at the club be extended, which returned at various intervals throughout the second period. As they did so however Ajax rubbed salt into home wounds with a fourth goal on 80 minutes, when substitute Mitea’s hard drive left Lodewijks with no chance. Yet the final word was Kuyt’s, as the hard-working forward lashed in an unstoppable shot in the final minutes to get his second goal of the afternoon.
Feyenoord – Ajax 2-4
33’ 0-1 Rosales
39’ 0-2 Huntelaar
50’ 0-3 Boukhari
57’ 1-3 Kuyt
80’ 1-4 Mitea
87’ 2-4 Kuyt
Yellow: Collen, Van Hooijdonk, Rosenberg
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Collen, Vlaar (36’ Hofs/52’ Boussaboun), Greene, Bosschaart (46’ Drenthe); De Guzman, Pardo, Paauwe; Kuyt, Van Hooijdonk, Kalou.
Ajax: Stekelenburg; Boakye, Heitinga, Vermaelen, Emanuelson; Galasek, Maduro (69’ Lindenbergh), Boukhari; Rosales (45’ Charisteas), Huntelaar, Rosenberg (70’ Mitea).