‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord rounded out a tough week with an unhappy return to Eredivisie action Friday evening. The eleven players sent into battle by caretaker coach Leon Vlemmings had expressed the desire to set the record straight on the pitch, but Heerenveen were just too strong in the end, running out 3-1 winners. Roy Makaay give Feyenoord a fighting chance with an equaliser midway through the first half with a fine goal, but a goal either side of the break ultimately did for the Rotterdammers.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst admitted the day before the game that it was essential to get a good result in Heerenveen, so as to relieve some of the pressure on the team after the departure of Gertjan Verbeek.
Yet despite those good intentions and a reasonably good opening few minutes by the Rotterdammers, that task was made a lot harder within four minutes. The home side’s first corner of the evening found Kristian Bak Nielsen in tons of space. His header swirled over Henk Timmer and in.
It was the worst of all possible starts for Feyenoord, who immediately went in search of an equaliser. The visitors played a fine passing game at times, which resulted in the first shot of the evening on 10 minutes, courtesy of Roy Makaay. The effort went over, but it heralded a period of sustained pressure on the home goal.
When it came, the inevitable opening fell to Andwélé Slory just past the quarter hour mark. The striker looked likely to net when keeper Vandenbussche misjudged a long ball by Kevin Hofland, but the bounce fell unkindly for Slory and the ball bobbled away after Slory’s head was caught by Michael Dingsdag.
By then Makaay had seen his shot cleared in front of the goal line by Väyrynen, while Vandenbussche only just scrambled away a long-distance drive from Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who was putting in a good shift. The keeper had no chance when Diego Biseswar let rip from the edge of the box midway through the half, but the ball smashed against the bar.
The leveller finally came seven minutes before half time. Van Bronckhorst found Makaay, who lobbed the ball over his marker before volleying it full-pelt into the net via the post.
Feyenoord were unable to steady the ship however, as Heerenveen edged ahead again before the break. Former Feyenoord hero Bonaventure Kalou played in Danijel Pranjic, who raced onto the Ivorian’s pass and shooting past Timmer from the edge of the box.
The same Timmer prevented his side from slipping further behind no fewer than three times just ahead of the break. Roy Beerens’ close-range shot, Bak Nielsen’s second attempt from the rebound and a Kalou effort from just a few metres out all found the keeper in great form.
Feyenoord were put under increasing pressure as the second half got going. From the sidelines caretaker Leon Vlemmings watched as his side were pushed back towards their own goal. The home side’s penalty area was a far-off country, as Feyenoord concentrated on trying to keep Heerenveen out of their own.
It looked like only a matter of time before the home side extended their lead and the goal finally came with 20 minutes to go. Beerens ran up the right wing before putting the ball right on substitute Arnór Smárason’s forehead. The Icelander directed it into the net.
Vlemmings tried to give his side some added oomph in the remaining time, bringing on strikers Luis Pedro and Michael Mols. The hoped-for effect didn’t come however, as Heerenveen finished out the game securely.
The Rotterdammers will be looking to put the record straight as early as next Tuesday when the sides go toe to toe again, this time at De Kuip in the cup.
Sc Heerenveen – Feyenoord 3-1
4’ 1-0 Bak Nielsen
38’ 1-1 Makaay
43’ 2-1 Pranjic
71’ 3-1 Smárason
Sc Heerenveen: Vandenbussche; Breuer, Bak Nielsen, Dingsdag, Popov; Väyrynen (81’ Sibon), Elm, Svec; Beerens, Kalou (67’ Smárason) and Pranjic (76’ Henrique).
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Lucius, Hofland, Bahia; El Ahmadi (61’ Bruins), Fer, Van Bronckhorst; Slory (74’ Pedro), Makaay and Biseswar (81’ Mols).