The game was very slow to get going. Willem II tried to put the home side under pressure but were not able to create much more than a few half chances in the first period. But Feyenoord too were unable to break through the Tilburg defence. The game was thirty-five minutes old before the home side brought a roar from their fans. Fine work by Elmander and Ono released Paul Bosvelt who should have done better than shoot wide from inside the box.
With the break looming, Feyenoord were awarded a free kick after Van Hooijdonk was fouled about 25 yards out. The big man took it himself and rifled his shot into the back of the visitors net. The fans sighed with relief.
The second half was much more exciting. Things really caught fire on 56 minutes when Danny Landzaat found the ball at his feet in front of goal and made no mistake to level the match. Willem II now suddenly looked stronger and might have taken the lead through Abdellaoui or Shoukov. It was down to Zoetebier to keep Feyenoord in the match.
And yet it was the home side that regained the lead on 68 minutes. Willem II keeper De Vlieger couldn’t hold an Elmander drive and Van Hooijdonk placed the rebound beyond him to send the fans wild.
Sometimes you don’t play as well as you would like and you still win. That’s what champions do. And Feyenoord showed that they have the resilience to take it to the wire when they got a third on 75 minutes. Van Hooijdonk celebrated his second hat-trick of the season and moved to the top of the goalgetters chart, while Feyenoord jumped over Ajax and Vitesse to claim top spot in the league, ahead of Wednesday’s game in Waalwijk against RKC.
Feyenoord - Willem II 3-1 (1-0)
Ref.: J.W. Wegereef
Feyenoord: Zoetebier; Gyan, De Haan, Sprockel (80’ 80’ Loovens), De Visser; Bosvelt, Ono, Tomasson (85’ 85’ Dos Santos ); Elmander, Van Hooijdonk, Smolarek (66’ 66’ Kalou).
Willem II: De Vlieger; Jaliens, Janssens, Van Nieuwstadt (77’ Sektioui), Mathijsen; Victoria, Ceesay, Landzaat, Mariana, Abdellaoui, Shoukov.
43’ 1-0 Van Hooijdonk
57’ 1-1 Landzaat
68’ 2-1 Van Hooijdonk
75’ 3-1 Van Hooijdonk
Yellow card: Jaliens, Van Nieuwstadt, Mariana, Mathijssen (Willem II)
MPV: Pierre van Hooijdonk