Louis van Gaal’s team were looking for three more points in their headlong rush towards the title and so extend their 25-match unbeaten run and secure their 13th straight home win at the DSB Stadium.
The home side seemed to be suffering from a touch of nerves in the opening stages, however. Their regular fluent passing game seemed to have deserted them, although much of that was down to Feyenoord who battled for the ball in every area of the pitch.
Caretaker Leon Vlemmings opted to allow Leroy Fer to reprise his role as man-marker of the opposition’s most dangerous player after his performance against PSV. After ensuring that Ibrahim Afellay got no joy last week, this time he was pitted against the league’s top scorer Mounir El Hamdoui.
As a result, many an AZ attack was nipped in the bud before the threat could blossom, giving Feyenoord the chance to counter. The Rotterdammers played the system intelligently, regularly sowing light panic in keeper Joey Didulica’s penalty area. Fer, Georginio Wijnaldum and Kelvin Leerdam all looked to test the Croatian’s reactions, although none of them managed to get their shot on target.
The biggest chance of the opening 45 came ten minutes from the break and it fell to Roy Makaay. The through ball came from Diego Biseswar, after some pretty play by Wijnaldum. Makaay, skipper for the day, had the time to pick his corner, but the ultimate effort was not precise enough, whizzing a meter or so past the far post.
At the other end AZ were unable to trouble the Feyenoord defence with their passing game. The only threat before half time came from a long-distance drive from Brett Holman, which went over, and a header from Kew Jaliens, which went wide).
The home side gradually stepped up the pressure in the second half. It left Feyenoord increasingly pushed back in their own half and it was only due to some good goalkeeping from Henk Timmer that AZ were unable to draw first blood in the opening fifteen minutes after the break.
The half was just three minutes old when El Hamdaoui was allowed a free shot from the left. Timmer saved well with his foot. The biggest chance came just after the hour mark. Schaars had a chance to head the ball into the net from just a few metres out, but the Feyenoord keeper pushed the effort round the post.
The hosts continued to ratchet up the pressure, but it did leave space in behind them. Luigi Bruins looked to have taken advantage of this with just over a quarter of an hour to go. Makaay played him in, but Bruins appeared to snatch at the opportunity, shooting over. A minute later El Hamdoui tried his luck for the first time in the game, but it too sailed over.
As more and more home fans made for the exit, Feyenoord came through the final stages without too many problems to earn a commendable point against the league leaders. AZ – Feyenoord 0-0 Referee:
Bookings: El Ahmadi AZ:
Didulica; Swerts, Jaliens, Moisander, Pocognoli; Dembélé, Holman (72’ Vejinovic), Schaars, Martens: El Hamdaoui and Pellè (72’ Lens). Feyenoord:
Timmer; Tiendalli, Lucius, Bahia, Leerdam; El Ahmadi, Bruins (90’ Wattamaleo), Fer; Wijnaldum, Makaay and Biseswar (87’ Slory).