Feyenoord played the game in black armbands in honour of recently deceased De Kuip legend Cor Veldhoven, who was also paid the tribute of a minute’s silence before the match got underway.
Unfortunately Erwin Koeman’s team were unable to give Veldhoven the send-off he deserved in the first half. The home side knew that a win would give them top spot in the Eredivisie, but found themselves a goal down within eight minutes. Bruno Siva shot a hole in the Feyenoord wall when the visitors were given a free kick in a dangerous position, and with Patrick Loodewijks was unsighted the ball flew in.
Feyenoord could have been a goal to the good themselves by then, because Kuyt should probably have done better with a header early on, but he didn’t force a save out of keeper Bas Roorda.
Feyenoord were winded by the visitors’ audacity to take the lead and needed a while to get back into their stride. Kalou had a good chance on nineteen minutes to score a beautiful goal, but the Ivorian’s overhead kick was just too high. It did signal Feyenoord’s intentions however, as the Rotterdammers went in search of the equaliser.
Kuyt brought the best out of Roorda with a devastating drive that the keeper beat out with his fists. Hossam Ghaly was next to try his luck, and this time Roorda was made to work harder to keep his side ahead.
There was a feeling in De Kuip that it would be third time lucky for the home side, and when Romeo Castelen fed Dirk Kuyt just a couple of metres from the goal line the crowd prepared to celebrate, but Kuyt uncharacteristically spooned his effort over the bar.
Unfortunately Kuyt repeated the trick a minute later, as he showed Roorda too much of the ball and the keeper saved with his feet. FC Groningen replied with a chance of their own on the stroke of half-time, but Erik Nevland’s effort was saved by Lodewijks.
The scoreline was a cause for concern, but it wasn’t a source of panic, as the Maassiders showed against Heerenveen in the last home fixture that they were fully capable of turning things round in the second period. On that occasion the side rattled in five goals in the second forty-five, this time it would be four, but the delight was none the less for that.
The first of them came not long after the break. Kalou started the attack, but it didn’t look like coming to anything until the ball fell at the feet of Boussaboun. The Moroccan washed away his midweek World Cup disappointment by stroking the ball into the far corner.
The goal was a real chain-breaker as Feyenoord found a new freedom. It was all the visitors could do to defend the point they still had, but within thirteen minutes of the leveller Feyenoord had the lead and it was Kuyt who was responsible. A slide rule pass by De Guzman found the Dutch international in space and Kuyt kept his head to direct the ball over Roorda’s head and into the net.
That was a real body blow for Groningnen, who seemed to lose the plot. Goal number three came on 72 and this time it was Kuyt’s strike partner Kalou who got it, smashing home from the right side of the penalty area.
The fourth arrived with a minute left on the clock, courtesy of Hossam Ghaly, who thus capped his return to the starting line-up with a goal.
Feyenoord – FC Groningen 4-1
8’ 0-1 Silva
52’ 1-1 Boussaboun
65’ 2-1 Kuyt
72’ 3-1 Kalou
89’ 4-1 Ghaly
Yellow: Greene, Cornelisse, Kruiswijk, Roorda
Feyenoord; Lodewijks; Östlund, Greene, Bahia; Ghaly, Paauwe, De Guzman, Boussaboun (79’ Pardo); Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou (87’ Vincken).
FC Groningen: Roorda; Florén, Luirink, Kruiswijk (77’ Sankoh), Silva; Levchenko (80’ Lindgren), Seedorf, Matthijs, Buijs; Nevland, Cornelisse (70’ Salmon).