PSV Eindhoven recorded their third home victory in UEFA Champions League Group E, defeating Fenerbahçe SK 2-0 to progress to the knockout rounds for the second year running.
Captain Phillip Cocu again led by example, heading PSV in front in the first half to ease mounting nerves. These were present throughout the second period, too, only abating when Jefferson Farfán doubled the advantage with five minutes remaining. The Dutch club ended their campaign on ten points to finish runners-up behind AC Milan, 3-2 winners against an FC Schalke 04 side who go into the UEFA Cup.
The match was preceded by a minute's silence in honour of Frits Philips, the PSV patriarch who died on the eve of the game aged 100. Philips, whose family dynasty gave rise to the name of the stadium and the 'P' of PSV, had witnessed all 18 national titles won by his team as well as the club's official formation in 1913.
With both sides intent on taking maximum points in this crucial encounter, the starting lineups showed plenty of attacking potential. For the hosts, danger man Farfán was partnered by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and the Brazilian Robert. The visitors' front line paired Nicolas Anelka with another Brazilian, Márcio Nobre.
The two teams took time to settle, with the first real goal threat arriving after ten minutes, PSV defender Alex heading an Ümit Özat cross narrowly over his own bar. Three minutes later PSV went ahead. Farfán's lofted free-kick was missed by Tuncay Şanlı, leaving Cocu to nod cleverly past Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel from close to the penalty spot.
Fenerbahçe responded with more territorial advantage and forced a succession of corners, but Heurelho Gomes remained untroubled in the PSV goal. Home midfielder Ibrahim Afellay then limped off with what appeared to be the recurrence of a troublesome groin injury, to be replaced by Ismaïl Aisatti. The next clear opening fell to the Dutch champions just after the half-hour, Farfán latching on to a Vennegoor of Hesselink flick to rifle a low shot that Volkan did well to keep out at his near post.
No way through
As the half drew to a close, neither team was capable of fashioning an opportunity of note. Anelka and his fellow forwards could not find a route through the PSV rearguard, and the home side similarly failed to seriously trouble the Turkish champions' defence.
Despite being behind, Fenerbahçe coach Christoph Daum kept faith with his starting XI, as did opposite number Guus Hiddink, as the second half commenced. Gomes was the first of the keepers in action, coming off his line smartly to nick the ball off the onrushing Anelka's toes. Robert then shot straight at Volkan from outside the box, before Gomes earned applause for a throw which sailed well over the halfway line.
Much of PSV's midfield sparkle came from substitute Aisatti, who was eager to push up and support his strikers and rarely wasted possession. Fenerbahçe pressed without truly looking like regaining parity, while at the other end efforts from Robert, Farfán and Timmy Simons failed to double the lead.
With Fenerbahçe's main goal threats, Anelka and Nobre, both going off injured, the likelihood of PSV's rock-solid back line being breached seemed extremely remote, and so it turned out. The same was not true of the visitors, however, and Farfán calmly turned the ball in from close range after another Vennegoor of Hesselink flick-on to spark scenes of joy in Eindhoven.