‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord lost second place to AZ in Alkmaar Sunday as the Rotterdammers went down to the game’s only goal despite controlling for long periods. The home side’s winner came from the boot of Shota Arveladze in the second half after Miakel Aerts saw the ball squirm away from him at a corner. The game was preceded by a moving minute’s silence in memory of the Anouk Schreuder, who sadly passed away during the week.
AZ started the better and were certainly the most dangerous side in the opening half hour or so, especially from the wings. Serginho Greene found it tough going against Tim de Cler, while Martijn Meerdink showed that he meant to give Pascal Bosschaart an energetic afternoon on the other flank. AZ were clearly set on gaining an early advantage, but Feyenoord’s well organised defence were able to restrict the home side’s chances to an absolute minimum. Haris Medunjanin’s ninth-minute shot after beating three defenders was a curiosity only equalled by the player’s later headed attempt at breaking the deadlock.
Otherwise it was Feyenoord that controlled the game, creating a string of chances, three of them in a frantic spell just after the half hour. First Ron Vlaar’s shot was cleared off the line, then Jonathan de Guzman drove his own strike centimetres wide of the post and finally Salomon Kalou found the outside of the post with his effort.
It seemed that Feyenoord were getting nearer and nearer the target. The best opportunity came on 41, when Kalou and Kuyt hooked up well as the Ivorian back-heeled the ball to his strike partner, whose off-target finish with just keeper Henk Timmer to beat was a huge disappointment.
Feyenoord were with inches of taking the lead at the start of the second half when Patrick Paauwe rose unchallenged to get his head to De Guzman’s corner, but the ball struck the underside of the bar. Less than a minute later AZ were counting that lucky stars again as Kuyt pulled his shot wide after a pass from Romeo Castelen. The home side were clearly finding it hard to keep Feyenoord from controlling the game, but the visitors’ lack of sharpness in front of goal was to cost them dearly just before the hour mark.
Maikel Aerts thought he had the ball firmly in his grip from an incoming corner only to lose control when he landed and Arveladze took full advantage to slam the ball into the back of the net to give AZ the lead with their first real chance of the second half.
The goal blew new wind into AZ’s sails even as it deflated Feyenoord’s. Koeman responded with ten minutes to go by bringing on Pierre van Hooijdonk for Hofs, but though the Rotterdammers looked more balanced, they were unable to push the hosts back as they had done before the goal.
It was AZ – through Stijn Schaars – however who went closest to getting the next goal, although the midfielder was unable to get his shot on target. Feyenoord were clearly getting frustrated with their afternoon and what they felt were some harsh refereeing decisions, which led Kuyt to sarcastically applaud the man in the middle for one of his decisions, earning a yellow card for his efforts.
In the end the home side almost doubled their lead late on. It took a fine piece of quick thinking by Aerts to deny Kenneth Perez a chance to add a second.
AZ – Feyenoord 1-0
58’ 1-0 Arveladze
Referee: Van Egmond
Yellow: Hofs, Greene, Kuyt, Mathijsen
AZ: Timmer; Jaliens, Mathijsen, Opdam, De Cler; Landzaat, Meerdink (60’ Perez), Schaars; Arveladze (81’ Van Galen), Medunjanin (69’ Steinsson), Huysegems.
Feyenoord: Aerts; Greene, Vlaar, Bahia, Bosschaart (82’ Boussaboun); Hofs (69’ Van Hooijdonk), Paauwe, De Guzman; Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou.