Despite his recent red card Pierre van Hooijdonk kept his place in a starting line-up that also boasted Mauricio Aros at left back for the suspended Tomasz Rzasa.
Both sides started fully aware of what was at stake and the game was attractive from the first whistle. That said, real chances were an expensive commodity and it wasn’t until the 22nd minute that Van Persie went close on behalf of the home team from a free kick.
After Heerenveen had a goal ruled out for hands, Feyenoord finally took the lead on 26 minutes. Van Hooijdonk shot at goal from the edge of the box and when keeper Vonk fumbled Paul Bosvelt stepped in to slot in the rebound.
Unfortunately the crowd hardly had time to sit down again before the visitors equalised. Swedish frontman Marcus Allback skipping past Kees van Wonderen before slotting the ball past Zoetebier for 1-1.
The double striker got the crowd wound up and excited, but unfortunately it was referee Haverkort who seemed to lose his head. He looked the other way when Aros was blatantly felled then missed an even more blatant handball by De Nooijer when the only proper decision was a penalty for Feyenoord. Things got worse when Ono committed his second yellow card offence five minutes before the break and was invited to leave the pitch by the man in the middle.
The second half began in the same nightmarish fashion as it had ended. Within two minutes Lurling broke through on the left and stoked the ball home from the edge of the area to hand his side the lead.
It appeared to be over and out for the home side. Yet that something extra that Feyenoord have shown so often this season, especially in the UEFA Cup, was found again. The game was getting harder and the home side started to gain the upper hand. Vocally supported by a sellout crowd. In the end it was captain Bosvelt who took the bull by the horns, scoring the leveller from an Aros cross
Then the unthinkable happened as Bosvelt picked the ball up in the middle of the park before sending an unstoppable drive past Vonk to claim his hat-trick and the three points Feyenoord needed to secure a place in the Champions League preliminaries.
Feyenoord-Heerenveen 3-2 (1-1)
26’ 1-0 Bosvelt
27’ 1-1 Allback
47’ 1-2 Lurling
59’ 2-2 Bosvelt
63’ 3-2 Bosvelt
Feyenoord: Zoetebier; Emerton, Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Aros; Kalou (59’ Leonardo), Bosvelt, Ono, Van Persie (75’ Elmander); Tomasson, Van Hooijdonk.
Heerenveen: Vonk; Bakkati, (46; Vayrynen), Venema, De Nooijer (62’ Ebbinge), Edman; Nurmela, Jensen, Radomski. Lurling (59’ Denneboom); Hakansson, Allback.
Referee: B.H. Haverkort
Yellow card: De Nooijer, Lurling, Vayrynen, Denneboom
Red card: Ono (2x yellow)