‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
It wasn’t a stroll in the sun but a hard fought battle that Feyenoord got Sunday in De Kuip against the Eredivisie’s basement club in front of forty-two thousand fans. In the end though a first-half strike by Ebi Smolarek and a Dirk Kuyt penalty after the break helped the Maassiders to a two-nil win and three points to retain a minimal chance of second place in the Eredivisie. <BR>
Feyenoord almost had a dream start after two minutes, but Danish defender Mtiliga was unable to convert from an Ono free kick. The home side continued to camp in the Volendam half for the rest of the half. Kuyt and Smolarek were particularly lively and both might have given their team the lead. Indeed, the Pole had a number of chances. First he failed to connect at all with an inch-perfect Buffel cross, before shooting over after more good work from the Belgian.
His lack of success in front of goal tempered Smolarek’s confidence and the next time he found himself in a great position he laid the ball off to Buffel when he should have shot himself. The score remained goalless.
As the match wore on, FC Volendam started to find their feet and had a couple of opportunities. Tuyp blazed an effort over the bar and Breinberg might have given the visitors the lead, but in the end the goal came at the other end.
The clock was ticking down the final minute of the first half before Feyenoord finally made the breakthrough. And it was that man Smolarek who brushed away forty-five minutes of personal frustration to net. Another perfectly executed free kick by captain for the day Ono was met by the international, who powered his header past Verhoeven.
There were a couple of opportunities in the second period, although Feyenoord were finding things tough. Dirk Kuyt’s header rattled off the bar and a few moments later keeper Verhoeven denied the same player. Buffel was the next to spurn a promising chance.
Van Marwijk pulled off Smolarek and put on Van Persie on the hour. The youngster looked likely to double the lead team within ten minutes of coming on, but he lost control of the ball when he found himself eye-in-eye with Verhoeven.
The second goal finally came from the penalty spot with a quarter of an hour to play after Luirink handled in the box as Ghaly stormed forward. Kuyt stepped up to convert.
Buffel might have made it three as full time approached, but his shot went over.
Feyenoord-FC Volendam 2-0 (1-0)
45’ 1-0 Smolarek
75’ 2-0 Kuyt
Feyenoord: Zoetebier; Song, Van den Berg, Schreuder, Mtiliga; Smolarek (58’ Van Persie), Ghaly, Ono (80’ Gyan), Lurling; Buffel, Kuyt (75’ Lazovic)
FC Volendam: Verhoeven; Koning, Breinbrug, Kras, Tevreden; Luirink, Buys (73’ Woudenberg), Salden (69’ Esajas); Bridji, Tuyp, Steur (77’ Van Zaanen).
Referee: D. van Egmond