‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord moved to the top of the Eredivisie in a three-way tie with AZ and PSV by slaying their Eindhoven rivals in an exhilarating encounter at De Kuip Sunday. The Rotterdammers took all the points in front of a sell-out 45,000 crowd thanks to a seventh-minute Dirk Kuyt strike. Guus Hiddink’s side shaded the first period despite the goal, but Feyenoord ran the show after the break and may have run in more goals but for an inspired display by visiting keeper Gomes.
Coach Erwin Koeman would have been a worried man Saturday afternoon when top marksman Dirk Kuyt missed training with a calf problem, and it was long unclear whether the striker would be ruled out of his first start in four and a half years. But the news was good Sunday morning, as Kuyt was passed fit for the first in a serious of crunch matches leading into the winter break, which extends past Christmas to 29 December this campaign.
The importance of Kuyt’s inclusion was underlined after just seven minutes, when the Dutch international rounded off a blazing start by the home side with an opening goal. Kuyt displayed the innate awareness of a born goal-grabber when he managed to position himself in just the right spot to redirect Salomon Kalou’s initially weak effort past Gomes into the PSV goal.
It was the signal for the players on the pitch and the home support in the stands to break into the kind of celebration that De Kuip has seen little of this season. Kuyt himself was mobbed by his teammates but still managed to make it to the dugout to hug Gerard Meijer, who had helped tease and massage the player back to fitness hours earlier.
It was a dream start for the home side, but it brought a violent response from the league leaders, who might have evened things up again within a minute, had Patrick Lodewijks not palmed Jason Culina’s shot away for a corner. The visitors turned the heat up with wave upon wave of attack that had Feyenoord hanging on. Farfán had the next big chance, but Lodewijks was again up to the challenge.
On 21 Farfán finally beat the Maassiders’ keeper, but the Peruvian was foiled by a goal-line clearance by Bosschaart. Not to be deterred, Farfán had another go on 36, only to find Lodewijks in his way this time. The next shot came from the boot of Michael Lamey, but Lodewijks was up to that one too. At the other end, Kuyt had a couple of relatively tame attempts, while Kalou was a permanent worry for the Eindhoven backs.
In the second half Feyenoord looked more like the genuine article. The home side were more hearty in the tackle all over the pitch, which gave them the edge. Farfán did have a couple of efforts on goal, but PSV were not exuding the menace they had before the break. Suddenly it was Feyenoord that posed the threat. Kalou went close with a free kick before Kuyt looked to have given his side a more comfortable cushion on 56, but his deflected shot whisked just the wrong side of the aluminum.
Hiddink tried to turn the tide with the introduction of Robert and the Brazilian had an opportunity almost immediately, but Bosschaart got in the way of the newcomer’s drive as the Rotterdammers held on to their advantage.
Indeed, Feyenoord continued to be the stronger side and should have doubled their lead after some fine individual play by Kuyt, who found himself with just Gomes to beat, but the visiting goalie saved well. Gomes was chanceless just a moment later, but Kuyt was not at his sharpest and the ball went wide. The striker had a third chance not long after that; this time he shot straight at the keeper and the action removed to the other end as Farfán shook up the Feyenoord defence with an effort that missed the target but got home hearts beating faster.
In the final few seconds, with the home fans willing their side to victory, Vennegoor of Hesselink almost got his side back on par, just screwing his shot wide, and keeper Gomes joined the attack at two corners. On the second occasion the home side won the ball and Kalou tried his luck from just over the halfway line with the PSV keeper still far up the field, but the strike missed the target.
In the end however the miss did not have any consequences as referee Bossen blew for time, confirming Feyenoord’s move to the joint top of the pile in a three-way tie with PSV and AZ.
Feyenoord – PSV 1-0
7´ 1-0 Kuyt
Yellow: Boussaboun, Ooijer, Lamey
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Östlund, Greene, Bahia, Bosschaart: Ghaly, Paauwe, De Guzman; Boussaboun (90´ Saidi), Kuyt, Kalou.
PSV: Gomes; Lucius, Ooijer, Alex, Lamey; Simons (58´ Robert), Cocu, Aisatti (70´ Reiziger), Culina (70´ Sibon); Vennegoor of Hesselink, Farfán.