Feyenoord reached the next round of the UEFA Cup with a game to spare and now head Group A after a fine win against the Germans from Gelsenkirchen at De Kuip Wednesday. An inauspicious start saw the visitors take an early lead, but a brace by Salomon Kalou turned the match on its head before half-time. The Rotterdammers went on the win the three points and surely a shed-load of confidence with a fine display in an all-round entertaining encounter.

The match started in a great atmosphere, but proceedings were only six minutes old when Schalke confirmed their intention to try to ruin the party.

A German corner sailed over everyone towards the far post, where Mtiliga looked like clearing, but his attempt hit the legs of visiting striker Hanke and rebounded into the net to give the visitors the lead.

It was the worst possible start for a home side under pressure. Kuyt tried to lead from the front to restore some confidence, striking at goal from distance and keeper Rost needed all of his wits about him to tip the ball over.

The situation led Gullit to make an early change, bringing on the talismanic Ono for defender Mtiliga, as Paauwe reverted to left back.

The switch had an almost immediate effect. Kalou brought the home side level just after the half-hour mark with a left-footed drive.

The goal unleashed a spectacular fifteen minutes with plenty of flair from Feyenoord. The reward was not long in coming, but first Patrick Lodewijks was called upon to save a Hanke effort.

The goal ultimately fell at the other end and it was that man Kalou who grabbed his second of the evening. After fine play by Castelen, Kuyt’s cross was met by the head of the Ivorian, the ball sailing into the net to give Feyenoord the lead.

As the half entered its last few minutes the Rotterdammers might have grabbed another. This time Kalou turned creator, finding Kuyt in space, but Rost got his foot in the way to limit the damage going in at the break.

In the second half Lodewijks was again perfectly placed to keep out a Hanke shot that more than justified his inclusion ahead of Gabor Babos.

The save appeared to gave Feyenoord renewed strength and the home side kept probing the Germans in hopes of extending their lead as the match continued to be played at a rumble-tumble pace.

The big presence in red and white was Shinji Ono, who guided his team through the storm and then started to turn the tide. Together with Kalou he was fast become the star of the evening.

Two-goal hero Kalou was substituted with twenty left and his replacement Buffel might have grabbed Feyenoord’s third goal after a lightening Rotterdam counter, but his attempt went over.

The spectacular show was certainly keeping the crowd warm in an otherwise chilly De Kuip, as the home side continued to look for a killer goal until the final whistle. It resulted in a huge ovation at the end of the ninety minutes, as the Maassiders celebrated qualification to the next stage of the competition.

Feyenoord-Schalke 04 2-1 (2-1)
6’ 0-1 Hanke
32’ 1-1 Kalou
40’ 2-1 Kalou

Referee: Messiass (England)

Yellow: Goor, Bosschaart, Ghaly

Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Gyan, Saidi, Paauwe, Mtiliga; Castelen (90’Smolarek), Ghaly, Bosschaart, Goor; Kalou (70’Buffel), Kuyt.

Schalke 04: Rost; Altintop, Waldoch, Krstajic, Pander (45’ Asamoah); Oude Kamphuis (63’ Delura), Poulsen, Vermant, Kobiashvili; Hanke, Ailton (63’ Sand).

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