A late equaliser from the boot of substitute Bergers put a huge dint in Feyenoord’s title campaign Sunday, as Erwin Koeman’s side were held at De Kuip by mid-table RKC Waalwijk in the Eredivisie. Feyenoord had started well and dominated throughout, going in front thanks to a first-half own goal by visiting captain Van Diemen, but they were made to pay for their inability to add to their total, and now find themselves still seven points behind PSV with just ten games of the regular season to play.
Feyenoord started with the same formation that rolled over FC Utrecht last week, with Serghino Greene in midfield and Pieter Collen at the back, as Patrick Paawue found his way barred to an immediate first-team return after last Sunday’s suspension.
It soon become clear that the visitors would be happy to sit back and try to soak up the pressure, and Feyenoord seemed to have a little trouble getting into gear early on against such lacklustre opponents. The first serious opportunity came after thirteen minutes, when Castelen threw in a cross from the right that Kuyt met at the near post to smash in a drive that visiting keeper Rob van Dijk did well to parry. Kalou was unable to control the rebound.
The blueprint had been drawn up for the rest of the opening half, as Feyenoord focused on attacking from the right. Castelen was especially lively in the first twenty minutes of the contest, running rings round the inexperienced left back Fung A Wing. Feyenoord were unable to profit from Castelen’s choreography however, although Kuyt (two shots wide) and Bahia (header from the edge of the box) both threatened.
Fung A Wing was pulled off after just 23 minutes, making way Dustley Mulder, but Castelen continued to be Feyenoord’s most danger player. The Dutch international skinned Mulder at the first attempt, launching a shot that Van Dijk managed to beat away. The rebound fell just right for Kuyt though, and he looked like netting with his header. That was without factoring in Van Dijk’s fantastic reflexes, as the keeper completed a double save that kept his side level.
Feyenoord were by far the better side, with the greatest threat coming from the right, but the Maassiders were lacking a finishing touch. Luckily the visitors were polite enough to give their hosts a little bit of help in that department. The game was 33 minutes old when Kuyt fooled Keller with a dummy before shooting at goal. The ball appeared to be going wide until it RKC captain Patrick van Diemen decided to intervene despite everything and ended up shooting the ball past his own goalie to give Feyenoord the lead.
That should have given Feyenoord the energy to cut loose and extend their lead before the turnaround, but despite being camped in the last third of the field, the home side were unable to break RKC with another quick goal or two. Bahia did go close with his nut from a corner, but his effort was kept out by the head of Fuchs. Not long after Kalou produced a beautiful lob that did not get the prize it deserved, hitting the bar.
The game resumed to the same pattern at the start of the second half, as Feyenoord again went close to doubling the lead. This time Kuyt was played in by Castelen, but Rob van Dijk reacted well to foil the Rotterdammers again. As the half wore on the home support became more and more restless, as Feyenoord failed to make the game safe and RKC tried to come out their shell to punish their opponents with the ultimate sanction.
The slight change in the balance of power led Koeman to haul Hofs off the park, replacing him with Boussaboun. With the Moroccan on the sidelines waiting to come on, Castelen almost made his presence unnecessary, smashing in a drive that rattled the post.
Just when it looked as though Feyenoord had got off scot-free for not wrapping up the game well before the end, Bergers danced away from Bosschaart with four minutes left and drove in an effort that Aerts couldn’t keep from going in to deliver a sucker punch. Koeman tried to inject some energy into his side by bringing on Van Hooijdonk, but it was too late, as Feyenoord conceded two points and to all intents and purposes the title to Eindhoven.
Feyenoord-RKC 1-1 (1-0)
33’ 1-0 Van Diemen (og)
86’ 1-1 Bergers
Referee: R. Temmink
Feyenoord: Aerts; Collen, Vlaar, Bahia, Bosschaart (87’ Van Hooijdonk); Greene, Hofs (72’ Boussaboun), De Guzman; Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou.
RKC: Van Dijk;Van Diemen, Bakens, Keller (84’ Barto), Fung a Wing (23’ Mulder); Zuiverloon, Mathijssen, Fuchs (57’ Bergers); Krohn-Dehli, Van Dijk, Lurling.