Pellè header seals third place

Feyenoord secured a place in the Europa League playoff on Sunday by sneaking a 1-0 win at home to NAC Breda in the Eredivisie. The only goal of the game was headed in on the hour by Graziano Pellè, his 27th of the season. The win means Feyenoord finish in third place overall, after ending the campaign unbeaten at De Kuip for the first team since 1996-1997. The game also included a debut for Mitchell Te Vrede, who came off the bench in the final minute.

Feyenoord wanted the win to be sure of that top three finish, but with direct rivals Vitesse trailing at home to VVV-Venlo at the break, Ronald Koeman’s side looked to be well on course after the opening 45 minutes despite failing to prise open the visitors’ defence.

Feyenoord certainly looked comfortable enough, with NAC Breda unable to create a single chance in that opening half.

The hosts found things tougher going forward, though. They had plenty of possession and most of the game was played out in NAC half, but the chances were slow in coming. The game was half an hour old before Feyenoord threatened to go ahead. The ball was almost bundled in from a corner, but with keeper Ten Rouwelaar beaten, a defender cleared it off the line.

The only goal of the game would eventually come from a similar situation. There were 60 minutes on the clock when John Goossens floated in a corner that Pellè managed to get his head to. The Italian’s effort beat the keeper, only for Tim Gilissen to head it away. The assistant referee raised his flag though and after a consultation the referee awarded the goal, as the ball had crossed the line. Pellè celebrated the goal – his 27th of the season – in the knowledge that his parents had travelled from his homeland to be in the crowd.

The lead gave Feyenoord the cushion they needed without having to rely on what happened in Arnhem. It also relieved some of the nerves at De Kuip after NAC went close just after the break. Stefan de Vrij gave the ball away to Anthony Lurling in a dangerous position. The ball eventually came to Rick ten Voorde, who only had Erwin Mulder to beat, but the keeper reacted fast to snuff out the danger.

Feyenoord stepped on the gas in the final fifteen minutes and might have extended their lead. The visitor’s keeper Ten Rouwelaar was the main reason they didn’t. Lex Immers, Ruben Schaken and substitute Wesley Verhoek were all foiled by Ten Rouwelaar from close range. He was finally beaten just before the end, but Ruud Vormer’s free kick rapped against the bar.

Ronald Koeman gave the fans an opportunity to show their appreciation for Pellè before the final whistle, taking off the club top scorer, who was given a huge cheer. Te Vrede came on in his place, making his Feyenoord debut in the final minutes of the season.

Feyenoord – NAC Breda 1-0
60’ 1-0 Pellè

Referee: Janssen

Yellow: Vilhena, Pellè (Feyenoord), De Roover (NAC Breda)

Mulder; Janmaat, De Vrij, Mathijsen, Martins Indi; Clasie, Immers, Vilhena (74’ Vormer); Schaken, Pellè (90’ Te Vrede), Goossens (64’ Verhoek).
NAC Breda: Ten Rouwelaar; De Roover (65’ Gommeren), Botteghin, Luijckx, Van der Weg; Buijs (75’ Seuntjens), Gilissen, Gudelj; Ten Voorde, Lurling, Hooi.
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