Feyenoord overcame city neighbours Excelsior in Sunday’s Unicef Benefit match, grabbing a 2-0 win in front of a youthful crowd at De Kuip. The goals came late though, as the home fans had to wait until 84 minutes before they could celebrate a goal by Dirk Kuyt. Romeo Castelen wrapped things up in time added on. The match marked the home debuts of Edwin de Graaf and André Bahia. All match receipts go to Unicef.<BR>

The two newcomers started their De Kuip careers in a special atmosphere, as the young crowd wasted no time getting into a party frame of mind. The first Mexican wave surged through the stadium with only five minutes on the clock as members of the club’s Youngsters and Kameraadjes fan clubs enjoyed a day out.

Despite the youthful exuberance of the spectators, the players were finding it tough to get moving down on the pitch. The guests outshone the hosts in the opening period and Mounir el Hamdaoui could have scored as early as the sixth minute, but he pulled his shot wide.

The chance was a wake-up call for Feyenoord and five minutes later Salomon Kalou had an opportunity of his own, only to miss the target as well. It didn’t signal a period of sustained pressure by the home side however and it was Excelsior that might have grabbed the lead around the half hour mark. Karim Saidi surrendered the ball to Brett Holman, who moved in on goal, but Brazilian André Bahia saved the situation before things could get ugly for Feyenoord, pushing the ball out for a corner.

The danger wasn’t over yet though, because Holman got his head onto the corner and only a fine reflex save by Babos denied the Australian a goal.

Feyenoord heeded the call this time, grabbing the match by the scruff of its neck and not letting go for a moment. The home side racked up chance after chance as Kuyt and Kalou both went close, before Goor almost shaved the post with his effort. The goal looked to have come when Bahia rose in the box to power in a header, but this time it was the visitor’s keeper Cor Varkevisser who took the plaudits, somehow keeping the ball out of the net.

But the biggest chance of the half was yet to come, because a minute later Danko Lazovic rocketed a shot against the bar. The ball came back to Kalou, who looked like he’d finally broken through, but his effort hit the Serb on the line and the danger was cleared.

The pattern continued after the tea and oranges as Feyenoord continued to huff and puff without ever managing to blow Excelsior’s house down. The second half was only a few minutes old when the home side got the ball into the net, but Lazovic was adjudged offside.

De Graaf had the next big opportunity, but like his Brazilian teammate earlier the Dutchman was unable to crown his debut with a goal. His shot rebounded off the underside of the bar and out to safety. It was the last touch for the midfielder, who made way for Castelen.

Excelsior did threaten not once but twice in the guise of Jeppe Curth, but both efforts flashed wide.

With the clock running down the goal finally came when Pascal de Nijs handled in the box and top-scorer Dirk Kuyt stepped up to convert the resulting penalty.

Even so, the first division side might have secured a draw at the death if El Hamadoui and Rothman had cashed in their chances.

In the end though it was the Eredivisie side that grabbed the afternoon’s second strike, when Castelen shot hard but true into the right hand corner to send the youthful crowd home smiling.

Feyenoord – Excelsior 2-0
84, 1-0 Kuyt (pen)
90+3, 2-0 Castelen

Feyenoord: Babos; Zuiverloon (67. Ghaly), Bahia, Saidi, Bosschaart; De Graaf
(67. Castelen), Pardo, Goor, Kuyt; Lazovic, Kalou.

Excelsior: Varkevisser (46. Graafland); Koning, Sprockel (36. De Nijs), Artz
(46. Van Dieren), Van Driel: Otten, Kolk (67. Rothman), Hertog; El Hamdaoui,
Holman (61. Curth), Mulder (74. Sequeira).

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