On Sunday, two of the Eredivisie’s traditional top three will go head to head at Philips Stadion, as defending champions PSV host Feyenoord. Ahead of the hotly anticipated fixture, we look back on one of the modern classics between the sides, a five goal thriller from the 2011/12 season.

  • By Andy Booth
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PSV Feyenoord
Entering the business end of the season, it was well poised at the top of the table. At the start of game-week 23 just five points separated the top 6, with AZ, PSV, and Twente leading the way on 45 points a piece.

Four points behind were Ronald Koeman’s Feyenoord who in theory were more focused on a season of stability rather than mounting a serious title challenge. Financial difficulties were taking their toll and a 10th place finish under Marco Been the season before illustrated how far the Rotterdam giants had fallen. 10 proved to be a torturous number for Feyenoord that season as a 10-0 thrashing at the hands of PSV was the lowest point of a disastrous campaign.

A year later, with their name now in the mix for the title, Koeman had rejuvenated Feyenoord and his young side were determined to redeem themselves after the previous years embarrassment .

Koeman fielded a much changed side from the one that lost 10-0, with Kamohelo Mokotjo the only player to start both games in a Feyenoord shirt. Giorginio Wijnaldum had started for Feyenoord that day too, but now found himself in the PSV line-up, having made the switch to Eindhoven that summer.

The first 15 minutes of the game were relatively tight but the under lying tension suggested an opportunity or a mistake was just around the corner. Around the 20th minute the game sparked into life with a couple of good opportunities for the visitors. Excellent work down the left by Ruben Schaken forced Andreas Isaksson into a save at his near post and the big Swede was in the right place again to prevent Guyon Fernandez scoring from 6 yards out moments later.

10 minutes later PSV had two great opportunities of their own. Zakaria Labyad pounced on a loose ball in the area but his shot was somehow blocked on the line by a back pedalling Bruno Martins Indi, more by luck than judgement. Erwin Mulder was called into action in the Feyenoord goal a minute later, pulling off an impressive save from a powerful header, with a goal at either end seemingly imminent.

The deadlock was finally broken on the 44th minute after nimble footwork from Dries Mertens. The Belgian, running at pace, skipped past the challenge of Martins Indi and cut the ball back across the face of the goal, allowing Ola Toivonen a simple finish.

The second half got underway, carrying on in the frantic manor in which the first had ended. Martins Indi was trying his utmost to keep the neutrals happy with some comical defending and his wayward pass on 53′ presented Mertens with an excellent chance to extend PSV’s lead. However Mulder was there again and superbly tipped the placed effort onto the post.

As the intensity of the game increased, tempers also began to fray. An over hit cross by-passed Fernandez in the middle and out of nowhere the Curacao forward head butted PSV defender Marcelo. Somehow he escaped with just a yellow.

PSV extended their lead in the 66th minute with a delightful goal. Regaining position on the edge of their own box they implemented a rapid counter attack. Mertens was faced with Ron Vlaar one on one, and he danced past the big Dutchman with ease. 25 yards out, the ball sat up perfectly and Mertens let fly; the dip and swerve evaded Mulder in the PSV goal and the scoreboard flashed 2-0.

That was his last involvement though, as the Belgian injured himself in the process and was substituted. With a goal and an assist, there is no doubt Mertens had been the biggest threat to the Feyenoord defence all afternoon, and with him off they grew in confidence. A 17 year old Jetro Willems was also taken off just before the goal, making way for the more experienced left back Erik Pieters and that decision almost came back to haunt Rutten as Feyenoord began to find more and more joy down the right flank.

Schaken certainly had the beating of Pieters for pace and his cross on 72′ was swept home on the volley by Fernandez to reduce the deficit. 7 minutes later almost a repeat ball in was not dealt with by the PSV defence and Fernandez, lucky to still be on the pitch, poked home the dramatic equaliser.

The second half was open throughout and at 2-2 both sides sensed they could snatch a winner. A hopeful ball forward was deflected upwards, landing awkwardly between centre-back Martins Indi and Mulder but neither claimed responsibility for clearing the ball. Tim Matavz’s pressure was minimal but enough to force the error and Labyad was on hand to tuck the ball into the empty net.

The 85th minute winner sent the crowd into raptures and gave Rutten’s side what they hoped would be a crucial three points in their hunt for the Eredivisie title. The Eredivisie, a hotbed of young talent, kept true to its reputation and there was time to give a debut to a young winger who had come through the PSV academy. Memphis Depay was given his first taste of top flight action that day, replacing the match winner Labyad.

As the season panned out, momentum swang back in favour of Feyenoord, ahead of PSV. Just two weeks after the 3-2 victory at Philips Stadion, Rutten was dismissed with his side having slipped to 4th. They recovered to a 3rd place finish under the interim control of Phillip Cocu but the season was still largely seen as disappointing given the promising position at the start of March.

Koeman’s Feyenoord meanwhile picked up form following the PSV defeat. They went the remainder of the season unbeaten winning 9 of their remaining 11 games to secure a 2nd place finish.

The all action game was a thriller and the end to end nature of the game typifies the attacking style of football the league boasts week in week out. Here’s hoping for a game even half as good on Sunday.

Andy Booth (27 Posts)