Hitting some of the worst form in your history is a bit of a dampener, to be honest. Thankfully for Feyenoord, there are still plenty of other teams ready to make a worse job of things. John Dobson reflects on last weekend's Dutch treats.
VVV Venlo 3-5 Groningen
NAC 2-0 De Graafschap
Excelsior 0-2 Heerenveen
Heracles 1-4 Ajax
PSV 0-1 Twente
ADO 1-0 Utrecht
NEC 0-0 Vitesse
Roda JC 2-2 Willem II
AZ 2-1 Feyenoord
Feyenoord are lucky. No, no, stay with me. I’m going somewhere with this. OK, so they’ve won just one of their last eight, shipped 21 goals in that time and lost again at the weekend, but they’ve managed to be about the worst they’ve ever been in their history at a time when there are four sides in the top flight that are even more inept. AZ were the beneficiaries of their generosity this week as the Rotterdammers yet again paid for profligacy in front of goal and can only hope for the swift return of injured Jon Dahl Tomasson.
There were at least three gilt-edged chances spurned by Feyenoord in the first 45 and, inevitably, AZ went up the other end and scored with seconds remaining in the half. Erik Falkenburg was brought down, Stijn Schaars sent the free-kick deep and little Brett Holman somehow won the header to put the Alkmaarders one up. Graziano Pelle replaced the ineffectual Jonathas and had barely been on the field for two minutes when he turned in the second following some super work from the effervescent Holman. That doesn’t sound so lucky, but Feyenoord’s Tim de Cler had already got away with a blatant handball in the box and when they did finally get on the board, Luc Castaignos was one of half a dozen that could have been pulled for offside before the ball worked it’s way through to him.
However, the luckier aspects for the struggling giants are outside of their control. One of them is city rivals Excelsior who, after a bright start including a home win over their bigger neighbours, are in even worse form. Moreover, whatever horrors the artificial pitch at the Verzekringen contained seemingly doesn’t any more. Heerenveen had to wait until late on to take control, Bas Dost with a thumping volley quarter of an hour from time and Oussama Assaidi’s deft chip. Excelsior have now taken just one point from the last 21 available. By contrast, Willem II are in red hot form after doubling their points total to a might two after a draw in Kerkrade. Roda JC were ahead twice through Willem Janssen, the first coming inside ten minutes with a confident finish across the keeper and into the far corner. Andreas Lasnik equalised ten minutes later with one of the goals of the season, cutting in from the right and hitting a beauty left-footed from a good 30 yards out into the far top corner. The gauntlet was down and Janssen’s second came from a similar distance, a low drive all along the deck into the corner to restore the lead and seemingly condemn Willem II to yet another loss. However, in the last minute, Lasnik found a cross and substitute Gerson Sheotahul got across his marker to poke it in from about a foot.
Vitesse provide another reason for Feyenoord fans to be cheerful as they drew a blank with NEC, both keepers pulling off fine saves to preserve a point for their respective sides and then there’s VVV Venlo who came off the worse in an eight-goal thriller against Groningen. Tim Matavz put the northerners ahead in the eighth minute after they blew the offside trap wide open, but VVV were level four minutes later through Balazs Toth’s 35-yard thunderbolt, though Groningen were complaining, not unfairly, about a clear foul in the build-up. They’d go into half-time ahead though, Gonzalo Garcia’s header seeing to that, but VVV were level again five minutes after the interval thanks to a penalty from Achmed Ahahaoui. The VVV defence got in each others way, Ferry de Regt managed to poke it into his own goal to give Groningen the lead back again, and this time, they kicked on. Matavz got his second after a sweeping passing move, though replays showed the Slovenian striker to be a mower’s width offside, and Koen van de Laak slid in to meet a deep cross at the back post. VVV did get one back before the end, Michael Uchebo with a looping header, but the damage was done and Feyenoord remain outside the bottom three as a result. Lucky bleeders.
Up at the top, the champions took control after beating PSV in Eindhoven. The first half was quite even, but Twente took control after the break and Theo Janssen smashed a shot off the bar before the only goal of the game from Nacer Chadli. Bryan Ruiz spread the ball wide to the Belgian winger who cut inside onto his right foot and smashed one across Andreas Isaaksson and inside the far post to send Twente top. Ajax are now level with PSV after brushing Heracles aside. Urby Emanuelson, Luis Suarez and Siem de Jong teed up Mounir El Hamdaoui for the first with some super one-touch football, but Willy Overtoom levelled it up before the break, controlling a bouncing ball brilliantly before smashing it past a stranded Maarten Stekelenburg. Ajax asserted their authority after the break and worked a short corner to Rasmus Lindgren 25 yards from goal and he smashed a beauty into the top corner. It really was a good weekend for the spectacular. Two real collector’s items wrapped it up, a rare goal from Andre Ooijer – a super run to get on the end of a corner – and an even rarer one from Miralem Sulejmani, the man they couldn’t get rid of in the summer. The little Serb was released from half way onto a super ball into space and he got there ahead of the cover and finished from a tight angle.
ADO got back to winning ways against fellow European hopefuls Utrecht, a Lex Immers header on the stroke of half time enough for the points, and NAC kept up the chase with a win over De Graafschap. Rob Penders got the first shortly after half time as De Graafschap keeper Boy Waterman dropped a routine cross at his feet and Waterman was again at fault for the second, bringing down Donny Gorter for a last-minute penalty which Gorter converted himself.
Feyenoord are at home to Roda JC next week, which is never an easy prospect. They’ll be looking for a draw on Friday night when VVV go to Tilburg to take on Willem II while Vitesse have AZ at home and Excelsior are away to new leaders Twente. Ajax take on ADO where the away fans are still banned from attending and PSV go to Utrecht which should be a great game. Both sides like to attack, but will Thursday’s Europa League commitments take something out of them?
Willem II v VVV Venlo
Twente v Excelsior
Groningen v NAC
Heerenveen v Heracles
De Graafschap v NEC
Ajax v ADO
Utrecht v PSV
Vitesse v AZ
Feyenoord v Roda JC
John is part of the backbone of IBWM and you can follow him on Twitter @Euroballs