‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Ruud Gullit’s men appear to have a foot in the group stages of the Uefa Cup after a second-half strike by Shinji Ono direct from a free kick handed Feyenoord a one-goal win in Norway Thursday evening. The victory and the clean sheet sets the Rotterdammers up nicely for the second leg at De Kuip in a fortnight, but if truth be told, it was the Norwegians who came out of the tie with heads held highest.
The home side started like Yorkshire terriers, with Espen Hoff on the right wing giving the Feyenoord defence a hard time early on.
Morten Knutsen was the first to show that the Norwegian underdog had some bite, rattling in a shot that tested the aluminium frame of the goal after only five minutes.
Feyenoord – without Ono, Castelen, Saidi, Kalou and Kuyt – didn’t take the hint and the Norwegians grew in confidence.
Indeed, Odd had a clear bark for a penalty waved away by the Polish referee after twenty minutes, when Babos brought down Hoff in the box.
Feyenoord were unable to make much of a fist of it up front, punching out but one clear chance in the first forty-five. Even then Buffel was unable to land the knockout blow.
Even when midfielder Fevang gifted the ball to Lazovic a little later the Serb was unable to bear down on goal, and when the ball fell to Buffel the Belgian was unable to make anything of it from a very difficult position.
Gullit had wanted to rest some of his key players ahead of Sunday’s encounter with FC Utrecht, but by the end of the half it was clear that the coach had to rethink his strategy.
As a result Castelen took over from Smolarek on the right and Ono replaced Goor in the middle, with the Japanese international nestling in behind Lazovic, while Buffel switched to the left.
Ono entrance brought calm to the Rotterdammers play, but Feyenoord still lacked balance.
A couple of long-range efforts rained in on the Odd goal, but Ono, Lazovic and Castelen were unable to break the deadlock that way.
But finally, with the clock counting down the last 17 minutes, Feyenoord won a free kick around twenty metres out. Up stepped Ono to curl the ball past the home team’s human shield to find the net and give his side the lead.
There was no further scoring, which means that Feyenoord take a one-goal lead back with them to Rotterdam ahead of the return.
Odd Grenland-Feyenoord 0-1 (0-0)
0-1 Ono (73’)
Moller; Aas, Deila, Nornes, Rambekki; Fevang, Johnsen (52’ Toresen), Flindt (52’ Dale); Hoff, Occean, Knutsen.
Babos; Song, Loovens, Paauwe, Basto; Smolarek (46’ Castelen), Ghaly, Bosschaart, Goor (46’ Ono); Buffel, Lazovic.
Yellow cards: Song, Occean, Ghaly, Loovens, Basto