The visit of Willem II was Feyenoord’s third match in eight days. The 1-1 draw at PSV a week ago in the Eredivisie was followed by a 7-1 drubbing of NAC Breda in the KNVB Cup semi-final on Thursday. Coach Dick Advocaat’s main concern was whether his side could shake the tiredness out of their legs and go again against a Willem II outfit riding high in the league.
His side showed they could with a dominant performance from the very first minute. Feyenoord were rarely troubled by their opponents, with a particularly strong defensive display from Rick Karsdorp, Marcos Senesi, Eric Botteghin and Tyrell Malacia setting the tone.
Malacia was at the root of Feyenoord’s opening goal around the half-hour mark. Racing down the left wing, the back played the ball in low to Jens Toornstra, who let rip with his first touch to score. The lead was doubled from the spot within five minutes. The referee awarded the penalty for hands; Steven Berghuis converted.
The skipper’s seventh straight spot kick success had put Feyenoord in full control. Not only were they two ahead, but they also had little to fear from Willem II. The visitors were restricted to a few half-chances, which Justin Bijlow had no problem dealing with.
The home keeper almost claimed an assist of his own when he threw the ball more than 50 metres to substitute Luciano Narsingh. The winger had only keeper Timon Wellenreuther to beat, but his lob was off target, going just wide. Narsingh had a second chance not long after, but this time Wellenreuther saved well.
Although unable to add to their lead, Feyenoord were able to see out the match without due disquiet to extend their unbeaten run in the Eredivisie to 14 matches. The win strengthened their grip on a Europa League spot in third place, six points ahead of Willem II, who are fifth.
Next up is the short trip to Sparta Rotterdam on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:15 CET.
- Steven Berghuis