Schalke ’04 scrutiniser Eddy Achterberg was an interested onlooker Sunday at the Kuip as Feyenoord stumbled to a costly defeat against mid-table in FC Groningen in the Eredivisie. A double strike by visiting striker Nevland was enough to see off the home challenge, despite Dirk Kuyt’s eleventh of the season. The defeat leaves Feyenoord nine points behind leaders PSV, and four behind the season’s surprise package AZ in second. It also leaves coach Gullit hanging on news of defender Karim Saidi, who was forced of before the break with hamstring trouble.

Ruud Gullit was unable to field Shinji Ono and the absence of the Japanese midfielder put Thomas Buffel in the shop window. Yet Feyenoord started well with the new-look Buffel/Ghaly tandem in midfield and more or less took control of the encounter from the first whistle. Chances were long in coming however. The match was nine minutes old before the home side carved out the first goal opportunity. Thomas Buffel showed his good rapport with fellow striker Salomon Kalou by trying to find his Ivorian teammate when the Belgian might have been better going for glory himself.

The chances continued to elude the Rotterdammers and the visitors started to come into the game more as the half wore on.

Indeed, Groningen took the lead on 23 when Mtiliga surrendered possession, giving Van Gessel the opportunity to take a pot at the home goal. Babos was unable to hold the strike and the ball fell to the alert Erik Nevland, who put his side ahead.

The setback injected some passion into the Feyenoord performance as the home side manufactured some chances of their own. Kalou sent a shot just over and Kuyt saw his header beaten out by Roorda’s reflex save on 30.

Babos had to intervene to keep the deficit down to one when Salmon threatened to add to Groningen’s lead with a strong effort, before Feyenoord finally pulled level on 39. Kalou rode his luck to pull away from his opposite number and he served Kuyt with a fine pass that the Dutch international struck into the net.

Three minutes later coach Gullit was forced to make a switch at the back when Saidi signalled that he was unable to continue due to hamstring trouble. Loovens was his replacement.

The second half saw the away side seemingly happy to defend their point. In fact, they could have been defending three if Van Gessel hadn’t skyed his effort when he found himself in a good position within a minute of the restart.

But from there on in it was the home side that went in search of the afternoon’s third goal, with Serb Danko Lazovic in the team from the sixty-fourth minute, as a substitute for Romeo Castelen.

And yet it was Groningen that ultimately made the breakthrough. A cross by ex-Feyenoorder Brian Pinas looked like meat and drink to Mtiliga and Loovens in the centre, but Nevland got his foot in the way, redirecting the ball past Babos to give the visitors a shock lead.

After that the northerners shut up shop and the home side where unable to penetrate into the danger areas, save once in stoppage time when Goor got a shot in, but he failed to find the target and Feyenoord suffered a painful home defeat.

Feyenoord-FC Groningen 1-2 (1-1)
23’ 0-1 Nevland
39’ 1-1 Kuyt
71’ 1-2 Nevland

Feyenoord: Babos; Gyan, Saidi (42’ Loovens), Paauwe, Mtiliga; Castelen (64’ Lazovic), Buffel, Ghaly, Goor, Kuyt, Kalou.
FC Groningen: Roorda; Elshot, Van der Linden, Kruiswijk, Floren; Matthijs, Van Gessel, Seedorf; Salmon, Hugo (68’ Pinas), Nevland (90’Fledderus)

Referee: B. Haverkort
Yellow: Loovens

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