CUSHION SHRINKS TO TWO POINTS AFTER GOALLESS DRAW

Feyenoord saw their advantage over sixth-place Heerenveen cut to just two points after the Maassiders were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Willem II Sunday. Indeed, their inferior goal difference means that Feyenoord really need to close out the last five matches of the season – including the final day showdown against Heerenveen – with five wins. Erwin Koeman may have to pilot his side without the help of captain Theo Lucius, who was forced out of the game after less than half an hour due to his continuing hamstring problem.

The weather played a big part in proceedings at De Kuip as both teams found it difficult to cope with the wind. Feyenoord attacked into the win in the first half, which played havoc with the home team’s long passing game. Erwin Koeman’s side were unable to string any flowing moves together and as a result failed to create a single chance of note in the opening period, although Feyenoord did threaten once before the break. The game was 39 minutes old when Pierre van Hooijdonk lined up a free kick, but the striker was unable to find the target with his effort, placing his shot wide of the goal.

Willem II were unable to profit from playing with the wind however. That was due more to Tilburg inadequacy than Rotterdam solidity, as the home defence looked fairly shaky at times. Not least on 16 minutes, when Cristiano broke into space and rifled in a shot that Timmer parried. Jonathan Wilmet latched onto the rebound but scooped his shot over. The home back line was undermined even more just before the half hour mark when Lucius was forced to exit with a recurring hamstring injury.

Saidi Boutahar had a great chance to put his side ahead a minute later. The former Feyenoord player got the ball at his feet about ten metres out, but the Rotterdam-born midfielder’s shot lacked power and Timmer averted the danger.

Joonas Kolkka failed to emerge from the dressing room after the break, as Stein Huysegems came on for the Finn. The Belgian almost celebrated his return to first-team action with a goal within three minutes, but the striker’s impressive volley went just over.

The chance was the start of a period of sustained pressure from the home side. The next one to test Maikel Aerts was Jonathan de Guzman. The Canadian’s free kick was tipped around the post for a corner, which Van Hooijdonk got his head to, but despite getting plenty of power behind his effort, the big man saw Anouar Hadouir clear off the line.

The game ebbed somewhat after that, until Huysegems got things going again a quarter of an hour before time. The substitute tried a toe-poker that Aerts managed to throw himself in front of to keep his goal intact.

Tim Vincken came on for De Guzman, as Feyenoord tried to pull the iron out of the fire, but the substitution handed the initiative to the visitors, who almost took the lead through Cristiano, only for the Brazilian to shoot over when he should have done better.

Castelen almost had the last word for Feyenoord though, when he found himself in space with just Aerts to beat, but the keeper was able to block Castelen’s effort. Feyenoord howled for a penalty in the last minute, but referee Blom waved away home claims after Buijs looked to have been brought down in the area.

Feyenoord – Willem II 0-0

Booking: Boutahar
Referee: Blom


Feyenoord: Timmer; Vlaar, Lucius (27’ Saidi), Bahia; Buijs, Derijck, De Guzman (71’ Vincken), Drenthe; Castelen, Van Hooijdonk, Kolkka (46’ Huysegems)
Willem II: Aerts; Janse, Bælum, Hill, Van der Struijk; Hadouir (86’ Nieuwendaal), Kargbo, Boutahar, Bobson (82’ Messoudi); Wilmet (77’ Imschoot), Christiano
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