Giovanni van Bronckhorst described Sunday’s defeat at FC Groningen as his side’s worst performance in his time as head ...
With both sides coming into the match with hundred percent starts, something had to give at the Gelredome Sunday. In the end, neither was willing to give up its unbeaten record and Feyenoord had to do with a point in a disappointing lunchtime encounter. The Rotterdammers led at the break through Karim Saidi’s first goal for the club, but the home side equalised with eight left on the clock. That makes it a round ten years without a victory in Arnhem for Feyenoord.
Feyenoord began with Shinji Ono back in the starting eleven in place of the injured Romeo Castelen in a settled midfield alongside Hossam Ghaly, Pascal Bosschaart and Bart Goor. Up front, Salomon Kalou was again preferred to Thomas Buffel.
Despite the promise on paper the Maassiders didn’t look to have the right balance in the middle of the park, with Hossam Ghaly looking particularly unhappy. The Egyptian surrendered possession too often and was found lacking in his positional play. That allowed the home side to make the running, particularly one-time Feyenoord trainee Richard Knopper.
Despite the closed roof, coach Gullit was quick to spot the gathering clouds, asking Ebi Smolarek to warm up after only twelve minutes.
It was only thanks to a less than impressive Matthew Amoah that Feyenoord remained on level terms, as the Vitesse striker managed to put the ball over the bar from three metres out.
By the twentieth minute Gullit had seen enough, hauling off the Egyptian for the Pole, with Smolarek taking up his regular position on the right and Ono moving further back.
The new formation paid off within minutes. Smolarek and Kalou combined to set up an attack that Purrel Fränkel had to break up illegally. When the resulting free kick was forced out for a corner Shinji Ono found the head of Karim Saidi, who nodded in the first goal of the afternoon and the first of his Feyenoord career.
Vitesse responded by beefing up their game, and the home side were rewarded with a spate of yellow cards. Amid all that pretty colour, Knopper even found time to have a strike on goal, but his effort cannoned off the post.
In the second half, as Vitesse pushed forward in search of the equaliser and Feyenoord found it difficult to cope with the home side’s physical endeavour. As a result, striker Kuyt was almost squeezed out of the game.
A well-organised Feyenoord seemed up to the task of soaking up the Arnhem pressure however, so there was little to fire the imagination at either end.
Gullit brought on Gerson Magrão for his debut on seventy in an attempt to break the home stranglehold, as Vitesse continued to throw their full weight behind their onslaught.
And it looked like Feyenoord might just hang on for all the points, until the defence finally broke on eighty-two. Richard Knopper powered in a free kick and Michael Dingsdag managed to get his head onto it to beat Babos from close range and condemn Feyenoord to its first points loss of the season.
VITESSE-FEYENOORD 1 -1 (0-1)
0-1 Saidi (24’, ass. Ono)
1-1 Dingsdag (82’, ass. Knopper)
Jevric; Vreven, Knol, Dingsdag, Fränkel; Hofs, Yakubu, Knopper,Janssen; Amoah, Gluscevic
Babos; Song, Saidi, Paauwe, Mtiliga; Ono, Ghaly (Smolarek, 21’), Bosschaart, Goor (Magrão, 70’); Kalou (Buffel, 89’), Kuyt
Yellows: Fränkel, Dingsdag (Jansen, 86’), Smolarek, Vreven, Janssen, Paauwe