Feyenoord started timidly and Groningen came strongest early on. Within seconds of kickoff Pauwe lost possession and Drent ran clear, but the home striker was unable to control the ball. It was a bad omen for Feyenoord however, and the first fifteen minutes belonged to the northerners.
The first serious opportunity for the visitors fell to Kalou after 22 minutes, but his header failed to find the net. Kalou had a second bite of the cherry a little later with a rasping drive from the edge of the penalty area that whizzed past the wrong side of the post. Next up was Song who rattled in his own long-range effort, but he too failed to come up trumps.
The game soon degenerated into a chess match with little of the blood and thunder called for by Feyenoord coach Van Marwwijk, with nothing more than ball possession and more ball possession without penetration. As the half drew to a close both sides appeared to wake up though. First Bosvelt tried to catch out keeper Beukenkamp with a gentle lob that didn’t quite come off; then Drent pulled his shot wide at the other end after a communication breakdown in the Feyenoord defence.
The start of the second half was more promising. Feyenoord rolled up the sleeves that Van Marwijk has so often cited these past weeks and the extra aggression was rewarded within minutes. Song played the ball forward to bring Buffel in motion and the young Belgian showed composure enough to lift the ball over Beukenkamp for his sixth goal of the campaign and the first of the match.
That was really the end of Groningen, as the Rotterdammers took hold of the game by the scruff of the neck from then on in. The chances started to come freely and indeed Ono might have doubled the lead PDQ, but the Japanese didn’t maximise return on a Kalou cross. With a half hour still on the clock Ono did manage to get the ball in the net however, meeting a fine cross from Emerton to put the game out of reach of the home side.
There’s no silver lining without a cloud though, as Van Marwijk has so often found to his cost and irritation, and this time it was Kalou who was forced to leave the arena on eighty-five minutes with an injury. His replacement was Seb Pardo. The nature and extent of the Ivorian’s problem is unclear as yet.
FC Groningen 0-2 Feyenoord
49’ 0-1 Buffel
62’ 0-2 Ono
FC Groningen: Beukenkamp; Schoenmakers, Elshot, Kruiswijk, Florèn; Krstev, Ikedia, Broerse (68’ Van Gessel), Tuhuteru (68’ Hugo); Drent, Salmon (46’ Landerl).
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Song, Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Rzasa; Emerton, Bosvelt, Ono, Lurling; Buffel, Kalou (85’ Pardo).
Referee: E. Braamhaar