‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Coach Ruud Gullit saw his side ring in the new season at De Kuip Sunday with a six-goal mauling of newly promoted De Graafschap in the Eredivisie. Three of those strikes came from Dirk Kuyt, while new signing Romeo Castelen notched two and Salomon Kalou also picked up his first competitive goal for Feyenoord. All in all it was an August afternoon of smiles for the home side, with another new face Karim Saidi making a fine impression in his first game for the club.
After a week of hard work and application, Tunisian defender Saidi was fit enough to partner captain Patrick Paauwe in central defence for his competitive debut, while in midfield Romeo Castelen also started his first official fixture in the red and white shirt.
The two debutants certainly repaid Gullit’s confidence. Saidi looked the business alongside the old fox Paauwe, and showed he was a threat in the opponent’s penalty area at free kicks and corners. Castelen, meanwhile, was the source of most of Feyenoord’s attacking prowess.
Indeed, within five minutes of kick-off, Romeo was already showing a will to win the hearts of the Legion, skinning his adversary in midfield with raw speed, before powering in a shot that cracked against the bar.
It was a rousing start to the game and things got better five minutes later when Dirk Kuyt put the Maassiders in front. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was from a Castelen cross that Kuyt nodded in the first goal of the 2004/5 season.
Feyenoord continued to dominate the game and it was just a matter of time before the goals started to flow more regularly. The second came on 36, when Kuyt netted a head-on by Saidi from a Goor free kick.
Van Beukering did grab a goal back before the break, latching onto a free kick into the box, but Feyenoord showed no sign of letting up when the teams returned for the second half. There was one notable change to the home side’s line-up however, as Buffel did not return to the action; he was replaced by Salomon Kalou.
The game had scarcely restarted before Feyenoord’s two most eye-catching players Kuyt and Castelen had cut the Rotterdammers loose. First Kuyt’s fifty-first-minute goal made it 3-1; then Kuyt turned provider and Castelen finisher a minute later for the fourth.
Despite the three-goal cushion, the home side continued to look hungry and Castelen rattled in his second of the afternoon from distance just before the hour-mark to make it 5-1.
Little surprise then that Castelen was given a standing ovation when he left proceedings on 69 minutes to be replaced by Ebi Smolarek.
There was still a goal left in the machine however, and it fell to Kalou, the Ivorian’s first competitive strike for Feyenoord.
Feyenoord-De Graafschap 6-1 (2-1)
10’ 1-0 Kuyt
36’ 2-0 Kuyt
45’ 2-1 Van Beukering
51’ 3-1 Kuyt
53’ 4-1 Castelen
57’ 5-1 Castelen
72’ 6-1 Kalou
Babos; Song, Saidi, Paauwe, Mtiliga; Castelen (69’ Smolarek), Ghaly, Bosschaart, Goor; Buffel (45’ Kalou), Kuyt (73’ Lazovic).
Klak; Bot, Van der Kruis (67’ Bus), Kalezic, Carrilho; Loval, Beelenkamp, De Graef, Ax (45’Van Leerdam); Haklander, Van Beukering.
Referee: Van Hulten