Feyenoord remain on title course, thanks to hard-fought win over ten Groningers
Feyenoord can quietly start the countdown. Ten games still separate the Rotterdammers from the national title, although against FC Groningen (1-0) it became clear that caution is called for in all those euphoric feelings.
Even after a silly red card for Isak Määttä, Feyenoord struggled to create chances against the tough Groningers. It wasn’t even meant to be a shot on goal, Oussama Idrissi’s cross that just turned into the goal two minutes before time.
AZ was put back on five points. Ajax can still come back to three points if it wins at home to NEC on Sunday. And in two weeks, Feyenoord defends its lead at the Johan Cruijff Arena.
FC Groningen seems to be over its winter dip. The first rays of spring sunshine broke through during the crucial home victory over Excelsior, on a visit to Feyenoord, Dennis van der Ree’s team did not profile itself as a relegation candidate at all.
Only the sending off of Määttä was of unprecedented naiveté. After first getting a card for time-wasting, the Norwegian defender kicked the ball into Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s face just after halftime. It earned him his second yellow.
Groningen was furious, because wasn’t the ball just still in play at that point?
In any case, there seemed to be no mental blow. Even with an extra man, Feyenoord created very little. And on the other side, Groningen was more dangerous, through its top scorer Ricardo Pepi.
That had also been the picture of the first half, when Feyenoord had possession of the ball and Groningen got the chances from its razor-sharp counterpunches. The first time, goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther intervened well, when former Feyenoord player Elvis Manu escaped attention for a moment.
A few minutes later it could have been 0-1, but Manu played the ball too far in front of him.
Pushed forward by The Legion, Feyenoord found the first cracks in the Groningen structure in the final quarter. Idrissi fired the first serious shot on goal against his old club after a good move from the left, substitute Danilo missed free in front of Michael Verrips.
After a header against the crossbar by Bullaude and the rebound by Santiago Giménez over, just before time the chance for 1-0 seemed lost. But an incoming cross from Idrissi was not touched by anyone and just plopped in at the far post.