NO WINNERS IN AMSTERDAM

Holland’s game of games ended in a draw Sunday as Feyenoord and Ajax played out a 1-1 draw at the Amsterdam Arena. Feyenoord’s red-hot striker Robin van Persie got the Rotterdam goal on the stroke of half time after Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic had handed the home side an early lead. It was a disappointing afternoon for Bert van Marwijk and his lads, who have now lost even more ground to league-leaders PSV.

The first threat from the visitors came after 12 minutes, when a Robin van Persie freekick was beaten out by keeper Lobont. The youngster then had a second effort from distance, before the best chance of the lot came on 18 minutes, as a Chivu mistake let in Bonaventure Kalou, who rattled off a shot that Lobont was unable to hold. The ball fell to Paul Bosvelt, who just failed to find the target with his attempt. Feyenoord began to dominate and for a time Ajax could only clear their lines in readiness for the next Rotterdam wave. Feyenoord looked like making the breakthrough on 22 minutes, but Van Hooijdonk was hauled down in the box and referee Jol decided against giving a penalty. That was the end of Feyenoord adventure for the time being as Ajax pushed for the opener. It came when Andy van der Meyde chased down a long ball, before passing to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who made no mistake from close in. The goal was a physiological blow to the Rotterdammers, who had surrendered the midfield to the home side. Maxwell, Pienaar and the young Wesley Sneijder were a constant threat and Feyenoord were lucky not to lose a second goal as the pressure was ramped up. And yet, it was Feyenoord that grabbed the next goal. A probing ball from Gérard de Nooijer embarrassed Cristian Chivu and Robin van Persie pounced to drive in the equaliser right at the end of the half. The second half began less frantically as the two teams were reduced to little more then sparring early on. The best chance fell to Boukhari, who hit the crossbar with a lob on the turn. Feyenoord went close twice, but Buffel lacked the composure to finish either with a goal. As the game slid into a lower gear Van Marwijk reacted by bringing on Anthony Lurling for a tired Buffel on the left. And the substitute almost pulled the victory out of the fire when he combined well with Kalou before sending a drive across the home side’s goal only to see Lobont save. Right at the end Andy van der Meyde missed a golden opportunity and the game ended 1-1, a result that only really suits PSV. Amsterdam Arena, 9 February 2003 AJAX 1-1 FEYENOORD (1-1) 1-0 Ibrahimovic (28) 1-1 Van Persie (45) Attendance: 47,000 AJAX Lobont; Trabelsi, Pasanen, Chivu, Van Damme (Boukhari, 46); De Jong, Sneijder, Maxwell; Pienaar; Ibrahimovic, Van der Meyde. FEYENOORD Lodewijks; Emerton, Van Wonderen, De Nooijer, Paauwe; Kalou, Bosvelt, Ono, Van Persie; Buffel (Lurling, 79), Van Hooijdonk. Referee: Dick Jol Yellow cards: Buffel (37), De Jong (39)
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