It was more siesta than fiesta in a sun-drenched Kuip on the opening day of the 2002/3 Eredivisie season, but luckily Feyenoord woke up just in time to carry off the three points against Nijmegen outfit NEC, coached by former Oranje hero Johan Neeskens. Bonaventure Kalou and Brett Emerton scored the goals in the searing heat, to get the Rotterdammers off to a winning start with a two-nil victory.

Bert van Marwijk started the game with the same eleven that ended against Fenerbahçe, as Ramon van Haaren took over from Tomasz Rzasa at the back. Strikers Kalou and Lurling were responsible for the first threatening move in the direction of the visitors’ goal after ten minutes, when Lurling played the ball out to Kalou on the right and the Ivorian cut inside to shoot, but the fists of NEC goalie Gentenaar got in the way. That set the tone for the rest of the match, which was necessarily played out at a low tempo. Gyan went close after a fine through ball from the foot of Ono. Lurling wasn’t able to make the most of a beautiful lob from Emerton. And Van Haaren struck from distance, but was unable to repeat his wonder goal against Spurs. The second half went pretty much the same way. Feyenoord attacked, but NEC kept throwing a spanner in the works just when they needed to. The crowd started to get a little restless in the heat, as the minutes ticked by. Coach Van Marwijk tried to mix things around by bringing on Leonardo for Gyan after 60 minutes. The Brazilian almost paid out a dividend instantly, getting the ball across the box, only to see his cross apparently handled by Wisgerhof. Referee Haverkort looked the other way, despite loud appeals. Robin van Persie replaced the injured Lurling to a big cheer, and it was he who crossed to find man of the match Kalou unmarked in the middle to open the scoring. Five minutes later Emerton ended the game as a contest with Feyenoord’s second to wrap up the three points. Feyenoord-NEC 2-0 (0-0) 77’ 1-0 Kalou 82’ 2-0 Emerton Feyenoord: Zoetebier; Gyan (62’ Leonardo), Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Rzasa; Emerton, Bosvelt, Ono, Lurling (73’ Van Persie); Kalou (88’ Elmander), Van Hooijdonk. NEC: Gentenaar; Wisgerhof, Wielaert, Hesp, Zonneveld; Hersi, Govedarica, Simr (82’ Van Rijswijk); Schuurman, Demouge (68’ Hristov), De Nooijer. Referee: B.H. Haverkort Yellow cards: Zonneveld, Bosvelt
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