Title contenders AZ kept their part of the bargain in Alkmaar, racing into a two-goal lead against Heerenveen, as Feyenoord looked for an early goal themselves, roared on by a vociferous crowd.
Unfortunately however it was the visitors that tested their luck in front of goal early on. Rutger Worm tried one from distance on thirteen minutes, but the luck was not on his side. Henk Timmer rose to fist the ball away as it threatened to sneak into the top corner. A minute later Worm was back in the danger zone again, but this time he was unable to keep his effort – this time a header – on target. Otherwise the visitors were not making much of an impression in the final third, although former Feyenoord player Lorenzo did rattle a drive over before the break.
By that time Feyenoord had already had the biggest chance of the half. Danny Buijs crossed on 23 minutes and when Pierre van Hooijdonk got his head full on the ball there appeared to be only one outcome, but the effort smashed against the bar and out to safety.
The hosts were finding it difficult to create chances, but when they did go forward the danger was immediate. The second opportunity for the Rotterdammers fell to Castelen on 52 minutes. The winger started the move himself and when he got the ball back from Angelos Charisteas he shot hard and true into the far corner to give Feyenoord the lead.
The goal inspired home side and Van Hooijdonk almost volleyed home to second soon after, but Babos saved. With Feyenoord looking to side most likely however, Worm played in Denneboom at the other end and the NEC striker nodded in the equaliser.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the Rotterdammers and it was difficult to say what would happen next. NEC had a great opportunity to edge ahead when Davids shot powerfully, only for Timmer to punch the effort away, but neither side were able to build up an adequate head of steam to claim the three points. Barreto did test Timmer in the final minutes, but the home keeper did his job and kept Feyenoord on level terms.
The draw left Feyenoord’s playoff chances up in the air, as even a draw at Heerenveen next week may not be enough to secure fifth place bearing in mind the Rotterdammers’ poor goal difference and the fact that both Roda JC and FC Groningen could still overhaul Feyenoord.
Feyenoord – NEC 1-1
52’ 1-0 Castelen
56’ 1-1 Denneboom
Bookings: Charisteas, Schreuder, Van Hooijdonk, Davids, Al-Akchaoui
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Vlaar, Schreuder (86’ Vincken), Drenthe; Buijs (63’ Derijck), Wijnaldum, De Guzman; Castelen, Charisteas (76’ Huysegems), Van Hooijdonk
NEC: Babos; Nalbantoglu, Wisgerhof, Otten (45’ El-Akchaoui), Olsson; Barreto, Kivuvu, Davids, Worm (77’ Ntibazonkiza/84’ Van Audenaerde); Denneboom, Beerens