Feyenoord made their domination against Heart of Midlothian FC tell as two goals from Dirk Kuijt either side of a Bart Goor strike gave them a perfect start to UEFA Cup Group A.
From the first minutes, it was clear Feyenoord were determined to take an early step toward regaining the trophy they lifted on home turf in 2001/02, and fully deserved their half-time lead through Kuijt's header. Once Goor had coolly doubled the lead on 58 minutes, the points always looked certain to stay in Rotterdam, and Kuijt struck again to complete a fine performance.
De Vries out
Ruud Gullit's in-form Feyenoord were able to name a strong team, with striker Danko Lazovic recovering from illness to sit on the bench as cover for the prolific partnership of Kuijt and Salomon Kalou. Hearts' Dutch striker Marc de Vries was unable to line up against his compatriots due to a toe injury, and Ramón Pereira's ankle complaint and Phil Stamp's illness meant defender Kevin McKenna was pushed up front with Paul Hartley.
However, McKenna and Hartley saw little of the ball in the opening exchanges, as Feyenoord swiftly began to assert early superiority. Kalou had a sixth-minute effort ruled out for offside, but Hearts were generally keeping the home side out of their penalty area, the Scottish side's defence throwing themselves in the way of long shots and Shinji Ono seeing his effort go over.
Kuijt heads in
Nevertheless it seemed only a matter of time before the dam broke, and on 21 minutes Feyenoord claimed a goal. A sustained attack following a corner saw the ball come wide to home captain Patrick Paauwe, and his deep cross from the right was headed in at the far post by Kuijt.
Hearts started to push forward after conceding, but that left space for Feyenoord to exploit with clever through-balls. Two almost led to goals as shots fizzed just past the post, the first from Kuijt and the second after Kalou had been sent clear by the guileful Ono. In between, McKenna had a goal ruled out for offside, but Hearts were having little joy and before the break attacker Graham Weir was introduced.
The visiting side made a brighter start to the second half, and although they were not creating clear-cut opportunities, Hearts were forcing Feyenoord deep for long spells. Just before the hour mark, though, Feyenoord doubled their lead in the style they so nearly did twice prior to the break. Goor was the man sent through on goal this time, and the Belgium captain calmly chipped the ball over the diving Craig Gordon and into the net.
With that second goal the result looked settled, and seven minutes from time Kuijt volleyed in a Goor cross from close range to remove any doubt. Hearts will look to get off the mark on 4 November when FC Schalke 04 visit Murrayfield, while Feyenoord travel to Hungarian champions Ferencvárosi TC.