The doleful start against Venlo two weeks ago is something that coach Bert van Marwijk desperately wants to eliminate from his side’s repertoire, but Feyenoord started playing the same tune against in Nijmegen.
Feyenoord showed a lot of commitment in the early stages, but lacked initiative and movement. The defenders were finding it hard to find the midfield, which led to Henk Timmer seeing a lot of the ball. The first half was well underway before the visitors started to show some fluency.
The best chance came after a half-hour and it was unsurprisingly route one stuff. Kevin Hofland placed the ball on Jonathan de Guzman’s head, who extended to Roy Makaay. The top scorer took the ball on the volley, rifling in a shot that spun towards the far corner, but Gabor Babos manage to scramble over and keep the ball out.
Two minutes later it was Andwelé Slory who made ready to take down a long ball in the penalty area. But just as he was preparing to do some damage, he was bundled to the ground. A penalty looked like the only option, but referee Luinge did his best Scrooge impression, waving away the visitors’ claims.
NEC had already threatened the Feyenoord goal on a couple of occasions by then. Youssef El Alchoui attempted to break the deadlock with two dangerous looking free kicks, but missed the target both times. Rutger Worm was also unable to get his effort on target on twenty minutes, despite being presented with a free header from a couple of metres out.
The home were certainly more value than the visitors in the first half. Bert van Marwijk endeavoured to change that with the introduction of Lee at the start of the second period. It was the South Korean’s first appearance since returning from his native country. The striker performed well in response, putting his speed to effective use on a number of occasions.
The extra attacking dimension may or may not have anything to do with it, but Feyenoord did edge ahead three minutes after the break. Slory was allowed to storm up from the halfway line, before rounding keeper Babos.
It looked like the youngster had given his side the advantage, but with the ball on a collision course with the post Jonathan de Guzman decided to help it over the line.
The goal appeared to flick a switch in the visitors and suddenly Feyenoord looked in control. The home side found themselves under intense pressure, as the Rotterdammers really stared to get their passing game into gear.
It led to the second goal on the hour. Theo Lucius had the initial shot from twenty metres or so. Babos was unable to get control of the ball despite two attempts and De Guzman saw his opportunity to nip in and net his second of the afternoon.
Bearing in mind the hectic fixture list in the run up to the end of the year, Feyenoord did their best to put the game to bed after that. NEC did create a couple of chances to pull a goal back however.
There was a quarter of an hour left on the clock when a nimble Ntibazonkiza danced past a quintet of defenders only to see his shot sail wide. Deep into injury time Timmer was called into action to thwart Ntibazonkiza again, ensuring he kept Feyenoord’s third successive clean sheet.
By that time De Guzman had retired early to make way for Nicky Hofs, who finally played five minutes of football after weeks of injury hell. NEC – Feyenoord
48’ De Guzman
60’ De Guzman Referee:
Babos; Nalbantoglu, Wisgerhof, Van Brakel (76’ Prent), El Akchaoui; Kivuvu, Davids, Vadocz (46’ Aarab); Lens, Worm (61’ Janssen), Ntibazonkiza Feyenoord:
Timmer; Lucius, Hofland, Bahia, De Cler; Sahin (78’ Greene), De Guzman (86’ Hofs), Van Bronckhorst; Slory, Makaay, Wijnaldum (46’ Lee)