Heerenveen 2-0 Feyenoord: Finnbogason and Djuricic star against the toothless Rotterdammers
Goals from Alfred Finnbogason and Yassine El Ghanassy sealed three points for Heerenveen as they ran out 2-0 winners over Feyenoord on Saturday night to boost their chances of gaining European football next season while severely damaging the title hopes of Ronald Koeman’s side.
Both teams made changes heading into this match with the hosts bringing in Jukka Raitala and Arnold Kruiswijk for Christian Kum and Ramon Zomer, respectively. Ruud Vormer slotted into the midfield in place of Lex Immers who was pushed up to lead the lines for Feyenoord in the absence of star striker Graziano Pellè, who has scored 21 Eredivisie goals this season.
The former ADO Den Haag star played very deep throughout the opening period, with wingers Jean-Paul Boetius and Ruben Schaken always playing ahead of him. This, coupled with the extreme pressure Heerenveen put them under, made it very difficult for Feyenoord to create many chances.
Immers had to be withdrawn on the half-hour mark when he was stretchered off after landing awkwardly on his ankle when challenging Joey van den Berg for the ball. The substitution forced a change in style for Feyenoord as Ruben Schaken became more of a centre-forward while Immers’ replacement, Wesley Verhoek, supported along with Boetius.Both sides were evenly matched throughout the entire first-half and chances were remarkably scarce. Filip Djuricic enjoyed the hosts’ best chance of the opening 45 minutes when he combined with Sven Kums and charged towards goal before unleashing a shot from the edge of the area, forcing a strong save from Erwin Mulder to knock it out from a corner.
At the other end, a poor clearance from a long Bruno Martins Indi free-kick was picked up by Ruben Schaken inside the box and the winger diverted towards goal but Kristoffer Nordfeldt kept it out and the danger was cleared.
Marco van Basten’s side started the second-half the brighter of the two sides, with Djuricic and Finnbogason linking up to open up a shot for the Serbian international but his effort hit the side netting. The young forward continued to threaten as the game wore on. Later, he picked up the ball on the halfway line and drove forward with great pace. His shot left Mulder with no chance but was kept out by the post.
The 21-year-old then set up Finnbogason three minutes later with a superb through ball down the right side. The Iceland international took it in his stride and held off the challenge of Joris Mathijsen before sending it across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
The visitors’ first opportunity of the second period came after 73 minutes when Schaken ran down the left wing before cutting back to Verhoek inside the box but the former Twente player’s shot was tame and Nordfeldt collected it comfortably. Two minutes later, Verhoek had another chance to break the deadlock when the ball was knocked down to him but he sent it flying over the bar.Feyenoord hardly threatened beyond those tame efforts from Verhoek, adding fuel to Frank de Boer’s argument that Feyenoord are lacking a Plan B when Pellè is not available. Immers never looked like scoring throughout his time on the park and Heerenveen’s defence remained strong to limit the likes of Jordy Clasie and Boetius to shots from distance.
The hosts weren’t exactly clinical themselves, but they had the killer touch needed to see out the game with key men Djuricic and Finnbogason on the park. It was the latter who eventually broke the deadlock when he exchanged passes with the advancing centre-back Jeffrey Gouweleeuw before tucking past Mulder.
Finnbogason had a hand in his side’s second goal when he launched a quick throw-in to El Ghanassy and the 22-year-old beat Stefan de Vrij for speed to knock it into the net and kill the game off in the 90th minute.
It was a thoroughly deserved three points for a very strong and efficient Heerenveen. The Frisian side have given their chances of finishing in the Europa League playoff places a massive boost with their fifth consecutive win. Feyenoord, however, will be delighted to welcome back Graziano Pellè for their next match as they look to get their title race back on track. Without the link-up play and constant threat of the Italian frontman, they were toothless and it was that lack of a backup plan which lead to their downfall in the Abe Lenstra Stadion.