Feyenoord clawed their way back on level terms in the last minute of normal time in Sunday’s ‘game of the season’ at home to Ajax. Ronald Koeman’s side twice had to come from behind, but a point was at least as much as Feyenoord deserved. It came courtesy of Graziano Pellè, who had the last word in a scintillating 2-2 draw. The game also marked the debut of Jean-Paul Boëtius, who capped a great display with a Feyenoord’s opening goal.
Boëtius was the star of the opening 45 minutes. The winger, who had been given a place in the starting eleven by Ronald Koeman to everyone’s surprise, wrapped up a dream week with a goal on his debut at De Kuip against Ajax within half an hour. He also happened to be the most dangerous man (boy) on the park in the first half.
Quite a feat bearing in mind that the youth international only recently hooked up with the first-team squad for the first time and played his first game with the Feyenoord/Excelsior Under 21s only last Monday. Boëtius had put in a man-of-the-match performance as Koeman watched from the sidelines and the coach obviously felt the youngster could reproduce that display in with the big boys in the biggest match of the season. He wasn’t wrong.
Boëtius seemed not be affected by any pressure, playing with the same freedom as he has in the youth team. He crowned an impressive performance with an equally impressive goal just ahead of the half-hour mark. The move began with some cute combination play between Wesley Verhoek and Graziano Pellè, which resulted in a perfectly weighted ball into Lex Immers from Verhoek. The midfielder fluffed his chance, but the ball fell to Boëtius at the far post and the speedy winger netted with his left foot.
That brought the team back to parity after Christian Eriksen’s early goal for the visitors – his second in successive seasons at De Kuip. The game was twelve minutes old when Ryan Babel put the Dane through. Eriksen’s strike from the left side of the goal whizzed across goal, going in at the far post.
Feyenoord had shown their dynamic side in the first half after the equaliser, but mistakes crept in to the home side’s play at the beginning of the second half. Ajax immediately took advantage. The hosts needlessly gave away a free kick, which Eriksen pumped into the box. The ball fell to Siem de Jong who had all the time in the world to tap in at the far post.
The goal did not knock the stuffing out of Feyenoord, however, and the home side gradually forced their guests onto the back foot. Clear-cut chances were few and far between though.
The game took on a different complexion with fifteen minutes to go, when Niklas Moisander collected his second booking of the afternoon and departed down the tunnel for an early shower. Ajax coach Frank de Boer decided he need an extra defender, throwing on Mitchell Dijks, while his Feyenoord counterpart chose to bring on an extra striker in the shape of Anass Achahbar.
Feyenoord probed and prodded as the clock ticked down and the pressure mounted and were finally rewarded with a leveller in the last minute of normal time. Pellè chested down the ball in the box before hitting a sweet drive on the turn that beat keeper Kenneth Vermeer all ends up.
A crescendo of noise erupted around De Kuip in response and for a moment the home side believed they could snatch an unlikely victory. Pellè went close in time added on, getting a powerful head onto Ruben Schaken’s cross, but Vermeer managed to stop the effort just under the bar.
Feyenoord – Ajax 2-2
12’ 0-1 Eriksen
28’ 1-1 Boëtius
48’ 1-2 De Jong
90’ 2-2 Pellè
Yellow: Immers, De Vrij, Martins Indi (Feyenoord) De Jong (Ajax)
Red: Moisander (Ajax, 2x yellow, 76’)