Feyenoord 3-2 Rangers FC (Agg: 4-3)
Former Celtic FC striker Pierre van Hooijdonk came back to haunt Rangers FC as his two goals from free-kicks helped Feyenoord earn a 3-2 win in Rotterdam and a 4-3 aggregate success that sends them into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup.
After a dramatic second half which saw both sides have a player dismissed, Van Hooijdonk’s two first-half strikes proved to be just enough to keep Rangers at bay as the Scottish Premier League side poured forward in search of an equaliser late in the game.
Van Marwijk relieved
"I am incredibly relieved that Van Hooijdonk scored those goals," admitted Feyenoord coach Bert van Marwijk. "At 3-1 up I was sure that we had qualified for the quarter-finals but when Patrick Paauwe was sent off I had my doubts. It was only when Rangers had a player dismissed that I was able to be calm again."
Van Hooijdonk on target
Van Hooijdonk's first after 37 minutes was from a fairly central position. The Dutch international fired the ball over the wall and beyond goalkeeper Stefan Klos into the right-hand side of his goal.
The second, just eight minutes later, was from further to the left but the kick was just as deadly, flying into Klos’ goal in almost exactly the same position as the first, although Rangers coach Alex McLeish will be disappointed that the ball was allowed to pass through his side’s defensive wall.
Rangers had taken the lead against the run of play from a free-kick of their own. Captain Barry Ferguson showed excellent awareness by darting the ball into the Feyenoord penalty area from the right after 26 minutes. The Feyenoord defence were momentarily frozen as Neil McCann sped in to slide the ball past Edwin Zoetebier as the visitors took the lead for the first time in the tie.
However, their lead was not to last long, and on the balance of chances in the first half, that was probably just about fair, given Lorenzo Amoruso had done well in the Rangers defence to deny Shinji Ono after 13 minutes. The Japanese international also went close when he headed Robin van Persie’s cross over the bar from close range on four minutes.
Feyenoord scored within seconds of the restart to make it 3-1. The impressive Van Persie’s shot beat Klos but rattled away from goal off the goalpost. However, Van Hooijdonk immediately whipped the ball back into the danger area where Bonaventure Kalou headed past the disoriented goalkeeper.
At that point, it looked like it was all over for Rangers, but just as in the first leg, a penalty decision threw the tie open again. After 54 minutes Feyenoord’s Patrick Paauwe was dismissed for a professional foul on Michael Mols in the penalty area and Ferguson stepped up and confidently placed the resulting penalty low to Zoetebier’s right.
What followed was 35 minutes of pure drama with Rangers throwing themselves forward in search of an equaliser and Feyenoord seeking another goal on the break. Van Hooijdonk nearly grabbed his hat-trick after 67 minutes when he headed wide under pressure from Tony Vidmar, but the game reached fever pitch when McCann was dismissed for a second yellow card after 73 minutes.
Mols goes close
Van Persie’s chipped shot just cleared the bar after 81 minutes, but a minute later Mols should have scored at the other end when, with just the goalkeeper to beat, he blasted the ball wide from close range.
Van Hooijdonk again
A minute later, Feyenoord could have made it safe again but Numan denied Van Hooijdonk again as he deflected his goal-bound header clear. The final minutes were all Rangers as they won a succession of free-kicks around the penalty area but could not find the final ball to unlock the exhausted Feyenoord defence.
‘The better team lost'
"I felt the better team lost tonight, but we lost two van Hooijdonk free-kicks and we knew they were always going to be dangerous," said Rangers coach McLeish. "I felt there were wee things that went against us, but the referee calls it and I thought we were unlucky tonight. We should be through to the next round and that's clear after tonight. We could and should have won so I'm pleased with the way we played."
’We played really well’
"We are extremely disappointed as we played really well, but we gave away two sloppy free-kicks," added captain Barry Ferguson. "At half-time we went in and the gaffer said that they were there for the taking and the team felt that as well, but it wasn't to be. We went attacking and I thought we were the better team, but we can be proud of the way we play although it would be better if we were through."
Feyenoord will now face the winners of Leeds United AFC’s game with PSV Eindhoven in the quarter-finals.