Feyenoord 1-1 Juventus FC
Pierre van Hooijdonk, whose goals helped Feyenoord lift last season's UEFA Cup, secured a point for his team against Juventus FC at the start of the UEFA Champions League Group E with another spectacular free-kick.
It was a scenario that had been played out so often last season, with the tall Dutchman standing outside the penalty area sizing up his options. This time, with 15 minutes remaining, it was Gianluigi Buffon left embarrassed as the ball sailed into the left-hand corner of the net to cancel out the outstanding volley from which Mauro Camoranesi had given the Italian club the lead.
Third time lucky
The preamble to the equaliser that sent the 'De Kuip' into raptures was remarkable with Van Hooijdonk scoring at his third attempt, the previous two having both thumped into the defensive wall. The referee was not happy though and booked two Italians, substitute Salvatore Fresi and Pavel Nedved, for encroaching.
It was a dramatic and deserved ending to a confrontation that was played at a searing pace throughout. Anyone averting their gaze from the action for a split second ran the risk of missing another edge-of-the-seat moment in either penalty area as the ball continued to be propelled forward at great speed.
Feyenoord have never won their opening fixture in the competition and it did not help their hopes of succeeding at the fourth attempt when midfield player Paul Bosvelt withdrew following the sudden death of his father two days before. Juventus, champions in 1996 and bidding to do better than last season's second group stage demise, began sprightly and it required an alert stop from Edwin Zoetebier following a header by Alessandro Birindelli to prevent them snatching an immediate lead.
Del Piero goes close
The goalkeeper also saved well from Ciro Ferrara while Alessandro Del Piero sprinted away from his marker to earn a shooting chance that ended disappointingly as he dragged a left-foot shot wide of the far post. Feyenoord were trying to respond in kind - their openings were not so plentiful though.
On the half-hour Chong-Gug Song set up the Feyenoord newcomer, Tomas Buffel, and Buffon was grateful to clutch his shot. It proved an expensive miss because two minutes later, after Van Hooijdonk had cleared a corner, Juventus took the lead. Camoranesi, the Argentinian signed in the summer from Hellas-Verona FC, chested the ball down before dipping an exquisite volley over Zoetebier.
Feyenoord might have drawn level before the break but Van Hooijdonk, set-up by Buffel, got under the shot. The creator was also at fault in the second half when he failed to keep his attempt on target after Chong-Gug Song had done well down the right. It looked as if the Dutch side would have to pay for those missed chances especially as Van Hooijdonk had been out of luck with previous free-kicks.
However the player who scored twice - one a free-kick, one a penalty - in the UEFA Cup triumph over BV Borussia Dortmund, came good in the end and the vast majority in the Rotterdam stadium could go home happy. It also preserved their side's record of never having lost at home to Italian visitors.
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