YEAR ENDS IN GOALLESS DRAW

Feyenoord closed the book on a demanding year Sunday in Waalwijk, eking out a 0-0 draw against RKC in the Eredivisie. The point gained was as much as the Rotterdammers deserved, if not more, as the home side controlled the match from start to finish. It means that Feyenoord go into the winter break in fourth place, nine points behind joint leaders Ajax and PSV and four behind surprise third AZ.

Feyenoord started without Van Wonderen, but Paauwe was fit enough to start in the heart of the defence. In midfield, the suspended Schreuder was replaced by Pardo. Van Marwijk’s team also included Ramon van Haaren. It was clear from the start that Feyenoord were going to have a difficult time of it in Waalwijk. The home side played with plenty of aggression and Feyenoord showed an increasing lack of confidence as the half progressed. RKC pressed relentlessly in search of the opening goal. The best in a series of good chances fell to ex-Feyenoorder Said Boutahar. He was completely unmarked in the box when he latched on to a Hoogendorp cross on twelve minutes, but drove his effort over the bar. It was a real let-off for Feyenoord, who in turn didn’t pose much of a threat to RKC keeper Sinouh. There were signs of life as the half drew on though, and the first Feyenoord opportunity came in the twentieth minute. Robin van Persie’s free kick sailed high and wide however. And the visitor’s first corner didn’t come until 38 minutes, which jut about summed up the kind of afternoon they were having. The first genuine Feyenoord chance came on half time. Swerts advanced into RKC territory before letting go a fierce drive from around twenty yards out, but keeper Sinouh kept the ball out with his feet. The sides came out for the second half in the same formations and the match soon reverted to type, as RKC created opportunities and Feyenoord didn’t. Dirk Kuyt was as hard working as ever up front, but was unable to threaten due to a lack of good service. Feyenoord had Patrick Lodewijks to thank on the hour, when he kept out Boulahrouz’s effort with an impressive save that kept the Rotterdammers on an equal footing. And with fifteen minutes left on the clock the visitors almost snatched the lead through substitute Smolarek – on for Van Persie. Swerts went close with a shot too, but the game remained scoreless. Pardo might have pulled it off right at the death, but his shot was turned away by Sinouh, as Feyenoord’s 2003 ended in a no-score draw. RKC-Feyenoord 0-0 RKC: Sinouh; Greene, Olfers, Teixeira, Van Hintum; Van Diemen, Petrovic, Boutahar, Molhoek; Hoogendorp (85’ Cornelisse), Boulahrouz (76’ Oost). Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Swerts, Gyan, Paauwe, Van Haaren; Lurling, Pardo, Ono, Van Persie (73’ Smolarek); Buffel. Kuyt. Man of the Match: Gill Swerts Referee: Van Hulten

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