Bert van Marwijk had pointed up the importance of a single flash point in a game after the victory against FC Twente in the week. He was referring to Jonathan de Guzman’s free kick five minutes before the break, which was finished off by Luigi Bruins. It turned the whole game.
A De Guzman free kick was at the centre of things again Sunday. With Luigi Bruins unable to finish it off due to injury, it fell to Groningen’s Mark-Jan Fledderus to round it off this time, albeit with less enthusiasm. The midfielder headed the ball out of reach of his keeper and into the net, to cancel out his side’s early lead.
The game barely had time to resume after the leveller. Van Marwijk will have been relieved to see his side pull alongside before the break, because it didn’t seem to be on the cards.
Groningen were the better side most of the half, and the visitors’ opening goal around the half-hour mark was richly deserved. Erik Nevland was given a long ball to latch on to, but saw his effort saved by Timmer. The ball fell to Marcus Berg however who coolly stroked it into the net.
Feyenoord were scarcely dangerous in the search for an equaliser. The best the Rotterdammers could come up with was a tame shot from Andwelé Slory, a lob by Nicky Hofs and a De Guzman free kick, which was saved well by Van Loo.
Despite the dearth of real chances, Feyenoord managed to level matters before the break, as they had done on Thursday. The goal did come a little later this time – two minutes into added on time, but it had the same effect, buoying Feyenoord ahead of the second half.
Groningen found themselves pinned well back in their own half after the break, as the hosts created a string of opportunities. Denny Landzaat almost capped a good performance with a goal, but saw both his long-distance drives end up wide of the mark. Another player on song was Serginho Greene, who had his shot smothered on the line.
Roared on by a fanatical De Kuip crowd that saw atvictory was possible, Van Marwijk opted to bring on Michael Mols alongside Roy Makaay. It almost produced an immediate result when Mols played in De Guzman. The Canadian’s shot was hard enough, but it lacked direction, whizzing past the post.
The pressure looked like it was going to pay off ten minutes before the end, mind. De Guzman was again the one who the chance fell to when the ball was played through to him with only keeper Van Loo to beat. The midfielder slid the ball the wrong side of the stick again however.
Landzaat had the next effort a few minutes later, a spectacular overhead kick that almost earned the new arrival a debut goal.
The visitors had some sporadic pressure themselves, mostly on the break. One of them came a couple of minutes before the end. Substitute Stefan Nijland charged towards Timmer’s goal, but the Feyenoord keeper was alert to the danger, palming the ball round the post.
As time added on ticked down the young Groningen striker had two further opportunities, but Timmer smothered the first, while the second rolled wide.
Feyenoord – FC Groningen 1-1
32’ 0-1 Berg
45’ 1-1 Fledderus (og)
Bookings: - Feyenoord
: Timmer; Lucius, Greene, Bahia, De Cler; Landzaat, De Guzman, Sahin; Slory (64’ Mols), Makaay, Hofs (46’ Lee) FC Groningen
: Van Loo; Hiariej, Sankoh, Kruiswijk, Stenman (Metaj); Lindgren, Meerdink (79’ De Roover), Lovre, Fledderus; Nevland (71’ Nijland), Berg