‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Three goals from Dirk Kuyt helped Feyenoord beat Heracles Almelo 3-1 at De Kuip on Sunday afternoon to lift the Dutch title for the fifteenth time in their history. In a landmark achievement for the club under coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Feyenoord secured their first title since the turn of the millennium.
After the disappointment of a week earlier at Excelsior, the final home match took on added significance. The fixture had sold out in January, but there was more at stake than the fans might have hoped for even ten days ago. Nothing less than a win would probably be good enough to take the Eredivisie title despite Feyenoord having topped the table since match day one.
The fans started to arrive at the stadium in the early morning and by kick-off time the place was rocking. The players entered the arena to a rousing reception, with thousands of flags raised in salute throughout the stadium.
The mood went from hope and expectation to sheer joy within forty seconds when Heracles defender Mike te Wierik misjudged a long ball and Dirk Kuyt pounced to steal possession. Feyenoord’'s club captain, a starter due to Tonny Vilhena’s enforced absence, let rip immediately to put the hosts ahead with his hundredth Eredivisie goal for the club.
The opener settled any nerves the hosts had as Feyenoord took the game by the scruff of the neck. The second goal came before the first quarter of an hour was played. Kuyt again was the finisher, heading in a Eljero Elia cross to put the crowd in dreamland. Kuyt picked out Vilhena on the sidelines, celebrating with the suspended midfielder.
It was just the start Feyenoord had wanted, fuelled by their indefatigable captain, who showed his customary drive and poise. Returning to the club two years ago, Kuyt had said he wanted to win silverware and he was certainly doing his bit to bag Feyenoord their second trophy in two years after last season’s KNVB Cup triumph.
If there were any lingering doubts that the visitors might force themselves back into the game and ruin the party, Kuyt put them to bed with ten minutes left on the clock Nicolai Jørgensen sent in a corner that Kuyt nodded home for the third. It led to an explosion of joy on the pitch and in the stands, with the players and staff in the Feyenoord technical area also showing their delight. The substitutes even ran onto the field of play to congratulate their captain in a dress rehearsal of their role at the final whistle.
The fans were having a party of their own and their enthusiasm was scarcely dampened when Mark-Jan Fledderus netted a consolation for Heracles just before the end.
The final whistle duly came to confirm the victory and the title, with joyous scenes around the stadium.