Feyenoord secured a maximum return from a tough looking fixture Sunday with second-half goals by Ebi Smolarek (2) and Dirk Kuyt at FC Utrecht. The win keeps open the Rotterdammers’ slim channel of hope that leads to a second-place finish, but more than anything it shows the side’s mental strength. One downer for coach Van Marwijk was Patrick Paauwe’s yellow card, which keeps him out of next week’s FC Volendam meet.

Feyenoord did not start the match well, which was as much down to FC Utrecht as anything. Mtiliga was finding it tough, which was to blame on Ono and Ghaly, who left the young Dane with far too much to do far too often. It was down to Edwin Zoetebier to keep the visitors on level terms, as has become his wont in recent matches. This time it was Dave van den Berg and Zuidam who saw their efforts blocked.

Indeed, Feyenoord were unable to create a single good chance in the first forty-five minutes. Dirk Kuyt did carve out three shots, but the threat was limited from the men in green and white.

As the first period spiralled down, Feyenoord saw both sides of fortune. First Paauwe picked up his eighth yellow card of the season to earn a one-match suspension that will see him miss the game against FC Volendam. Then referee Luinge failed to see a blatant handball by Patrick Mtiliga in the penalty area that could and perhaps should have left Feyenoord with only ten players on the pitch and a penalty to defend.

The good luck continued after the turnaround, as Feyenoord found the back of the net with the first attack of the second half. Buffel broke through on the left and the Belgian did well to find Smolarek in space in the zone. The Polish international converted the opportunity without blinking to put the visitors a goal to the good.

The lead added a payload of confidence to Feyenoord hearts and heads. And things just kept getting better.

Keeper Terol managed to parry an Ono strike and the rebound from Lurling, but when he handled Broerse’s back pass just past the hour mark the referee awarded a free kick to the Rotterdammers five metres out. Ono tapped the ball to Kuyt, who powered the ball home for goal number two.

Feyenoord even got a third goal with a quarter of an hour left to tick down and it came from the best move of the match. Ono chipped for Lurling to run onto and he got himself into the penalty area, laying the ball off for Smolarek, who found the net for the second time in the afternoon.

And that was that, save a cameo by Robin van Persie, who came on for the final seven minutes plus change to a rousing reception from the travelling Feyenoord fans.

FC Utrecht-Feyenoord 0-3 (0-0)
51’ 0-1 Smolarek
62’ 0-2 Kuyt
75’ 0-3 Smolarek

FC Utrecht: Terrol; Zuidam (70’ Calabro), Zwaanswijk, Schut, Shew-Atjon; Broerse, Bosschaart; Lamey (70’ Leitoe), Van Tanghe, Van den Berg, Van der Haar.

Feyenoord: Zoetebier; Song, Van den Berg, Paauwe, Mtiliga; Smolarek (83’ Van Persie), Ghali, Ono, Lurling; Kuyt, Buffel.

Referee: Luinge
Yellows: Paauwe, Van der Haar

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