In the run-up to Advocaat’s first home game in charge, the head coach’s message was unambiguous: ‘We must win, but we mustn’t lose’. That may sound strange, but a look at the Group G table shows that analysis to be founded in logic. After three match days Feyenoord were bottom of the pile, three points behind leaders Young Boys. A win in Rotterdam would cancel out the 2-0 victory for the Swiss in the corresponding fixture in Bern.
Feyenoord started well in a packed De Kuip, pressing well and looking to go wide when they could. The policy paid off on 18 minutes. Storming forward down the wing, Ridgeciano Haps dribbled his way into the box only to be brought to the ground. When the referee pointed to the penalty spot Steven Berghuis stepped up to put Feyenoord ahead with a crisp shot into the right-hand corner.
The hosts protected their lead until well into the second half, albeit without ripping up any trees themselves. Young Boys were subdued, but perked up soon after Marvin Spielmann was brought off the substitute’s bench. The Swiss side had not really seriously threatened the Feyenoord goal, but the new introduction changed that.
Within three minutes of his arrival Spielmann had equalised. A pullback from the by-line created a shooting chance and although Jan-Arie van der Heijden managed to block the first effort, Spielmann pounced on the rebound to tie the contest.
Both sides had chances to claim all three points, but with the stakes so high nervy attacking and desperate defending kept the sides in balance. In the end, the draw felt like the right result, but the hosts were disappointed not to secure their second win of the group stage.
Feyenoord now most likely need to take six points from the last two Group G fixtures (Rangers home and FC Porto away) to progress to the knockout stage. ‘It’s possible but it’ll be tough. That’s clear,’ said Advocaat at the post-match press conference.
- Steven Berghuis