AJ Auxerre 0-0 PSV Eindhoven
Jelle ten Rouwelaar made an impressive debut in goal for PSV Eindhoven as Guus Hiddunk’s side held AJ Auxerre to a goalless draw at the Abbé Deschamps stadium in their opening UEFA Champions League Group A encounter.
PSV were the happier of the two sides at the final whistle as they played patient football throughout and, despite a couple of scares, never really looked like conceding. This was largely down to the organisation of Kevin Hofland’s impressive defence, and the presence of Ten Rouwelaar in goal.
The custodian twice got his side out of trouble. In the first half he reacted rapidly to the danger of an advancing Benji Mwaruwari, smothering his effort when one-on-one with the Zimbabwean. He exuded confidence, and, when deceived by a deflected Khalilou Fadiga cross in the second half, clawed the ball away brilliantly.
PSV’s cause was aided by the non-appearance of Auxerre’s hottest property, French international striker Djibril Cissé, who was suffering from a foot injury. His presence was sorely missed, and Guy Roux’s side seemed to struggle to retain possession at times.
Content with keep-ball
There were no problems in this department for PSV, who were content to play keep-ball at times. Their attempts to frustrate and lure Auxerre’s youthful side into making mistakes did not create many chances, although Mateja Kezman could have broken the deadlock when clean through on Fabien Cool. Indeed the unflustered Cool lived up to his name as he calmly dealt with PSV’s infrequent threats. After spilling an early shot from Remco van der Schaaf, Cool earned his keep by hanging on to Rommedahl’s close range effort.
Then, on the hour mark, he made a match-saving double save after PSV had put a magnificent move together. The first was from a driven Bouma shot that he palmed away, before scrambling to his feet and denying Rommedahl’s follow-up effort. After Ten Rouwelaar, Cool was the most impressive player on the pitch. Little wonder the final score ended 0-0.
There were promising signs that goals could be on their way, however. Arnold Bruggink was lively, and found space when he dropped deep. With Swiss international Johann Vogel showing some neat touches in midfield, PSV looked like they might even break a European away jinx which has seen them win only three times on their travels.
Auxerre will be disappointed not to have taken the points after five years away from the competition, but despite Olivier Kapo’s elegance on the ball, they struggled to create clear chances. And when chances seemed forthcoming, there was Hofland to deny them.
Even a hectic final ten minutes could not fluster the imperious Dutch centre-half. Both coaches tried to play the winning card with only five minutes on the clock. First Roux threw on Arnaud Gonzalez for the tiring Mwaruwari, before Hiddink responded by bringing the talented young Leandro on to the pitch. But to no avail; it was very much a defender’s game.