‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord slumped to defeat at De Kuip in Sunday’s Eredivisie fixture to finally end the club’s slim hopes of a second place finish and a place in next season’s Champions League qualifiers. The home side seemed to be skating to three points after Dirk Kuyt handed Feyenoord a second half lead, but two Martin Drent goals late on turned the tables, ending the Rotterdammers’ ten-game unbeaten run. The reverse means that Feyenoord will take part in the Uefa Cup in the 2004-5 season.
Patrick Paauwe missed the encounter as feared. His place was taken by Mr Reliable Chris Gyan. The Ghanaian had little to do for most of the match, as the visitors set out their stall in their own half and rarely broke over the halfway line.
Feyenoord had problems finding a way through the northerners ten men defence and the game was 35 minutes old before the home fans had something to stand up for. Dirk Kuyt broke clear, but failed to connect with the ball as he would have wished with only keeper Beukenkamp to beat. Thomas Buffel picked the ball up on the right, but his ball back in with tipped over by the goalie for a corner.
In the first half’s final minute FC Groningen might have even taken the lead, but Edwin Zoetebier kept Glenn Salmon’s effort out. It would have been harsh.
Coach Van Marwijk must have had a few words at the break, because his side had more about them at the start of the second half. Indeed Shinji Ono might have given the home side the lead four minutes in, but his fine drive struck the bar.
At the other end, Hugo Lurling grabbed possession in the danger zone, but the Brazilian was less than dynamic and Zoetebier took custody of the ball before anything really threatening could happen.
The mini revival turned into a full-blown revitalisation when Feyenoord grabbed the game’s opening goal on 55, when Dirk Kuyt’s shot deflected off a defender to beat keeper Beukenkamp.
The home fans sighed with relief and must have felt that the huff and puff was over for another week, the points safe in the bank.
There was more room for the Rotterdammers as FC Groningen were forced to push forward. That space might have led to another home goal, but Robin van Persie misjudged his lob eye in eye with the keeper, as the ball went over.
The unimaginable happened with four minutes left however, when substitute Martin Drent headed in the equaliser and when the same Drent rifled in the visitors’ second at the death it wrapped up a surreal afternoon in which Feyenoord’s CL ambitions went up in a puff of smoke.
Feyenoord – FC Groningen 1-2 (0-0)
55’ Kuyt 1-0
86’ Drent 1-1
90’ Drent 1-2
Feyenoord: Zoetebier; Song, Van den Berg, Paauwe, Mtiliga; Smolarek (57’ Van Persie), Ono, Ghaly, Lurling (57’ Lazovic); Buffel, Kuyt.
FC Groningen: Beukenkamp; Elshot (85’ Fränkel), Schoenmakers, Kruiswijk, Florén; Krstev, Matthijs (80’ Drent), Van Gessel, Smit (14’ Hugo), De Witte; Salmon.
Yellows: Matthijs, Kruiswijk (FC Groningen)
Red: Schoenmakers (FC Groningen, 2x yellow)