Cole Bassett had his longest appearance since joining Feyenoord in their crucial road win while Luca de la Torre and Heracles withstood the storm to earn a draw despite playing with only ten men.
Heracles 1 – 1 Twente
Luca de la Torre took up his usual starting role in the Heracles central midfield on Saturday afternoon, as an eventful first half saw them earn a tough point against visiting Twente despite playing most of the game a man down.
During his 78 minutes on the field, the American had a typically solid performance, completing 79% of his 29 passing attempts amidst 48 total touches, attempting one off-target shot, and winning 10 of his 18 duels.
Most importantly, he was a key player in the goal that secured the point for his team.
Heracles seemed to shoot themselves in the foot in the early going when Anas Quahim was shown a straight red in the 16th minute, following a VAR review, for a blatantly reckless tackle on Dimitrios Limnios.
This seemed to already hurt their chances five minutes later when Ricky van Wolfswinkel put the ball in the Heracles net, however a VAR review confirmed that the goal was offside.
Nevertheless, the hosts kept up the pressure and scored the opener in the 36th minute despite their man-disadvantage on the field.
de la Torre broke up the middle into Twente territory before laying the ball off to Emil Hansson, who was streaking up the left side with no defenders in sight. Instead of trying to create the heroics on his own, Hansson spotted Noah Fadiga to his right, and laid the ball into the Belgian’s path for a one-time blast that left the keeper no chance whatsoever.
Despite doing well to keep Twente at bay, they did concede an equalizer deep into first-half injury time when Gijs Smal looped a low free kick just beyond the four-man wall, nailing the lower left corner for the 1-1 equalizer.
Heracles came close to retaking the lead in the 56th minute when an attempted cross by Sinan Bakis to de la Torre at the right post was well wide of the mark.
In the end, despite holding only 34% of possession and being outshot by a ten-shot margin, the hosts miraculously held on for the point.
Heracles are all but mathematically safe from relegation, with an eight-point gap and several places ahead of the 16th-place playoff spot and only three games left on the schedule. They will be back in action with a visit to dead-last Willem II Tilburg on Saturday.
Fortuna Sittard 1 – 3 Feyenoord
Cole Bassett had an extended run-out for Feyenoord on Sunday, closing out the last 23 minutes of their important win over Fortuna Sittard.
In his 23 minutes, Bassett completed 10 of his 12 shots, had one shot attempt blocked, and set up one attempt late in the game.
Lutsharel Geertruida put the guests ahead when he headed in a corner by Orkun Kökcü in the eighth minute. The Turkish international saw his spot kick attempt saved nine minutes later, however Feyenoord still made it 2-0 i the 25th minute when Geertruida struck a powerful shot from the middle of the area.
Reiss Nelson then added a third in the 52nd with an impossibly angled shot from the right that somehow managed to bounce off of both uprights before finally rolling over the line.
Bassett entered for Guus Til in the 67th minute for by far his longest appearance since joining the team in January.
Fortuna did grab a consolation goal in the 70th minute when Zian Flemming broke free in the middle for a one-timed volley, however failed to mount any significant come-back attempt.
In the final minutes, Bassett was active in Feyenoord’s push to add a fourth, setting up teammate Bryan Linssen with a through-ball for an on-target attempt that forced a save in the 88th minute, then seeing his own long-distance shot two minutes later blocked.
The victory gives Feyenoord a five-point cushion in third place ahead of Twente, giving them a major leg up in their hopes to reach the Europa League qualification round. They will face Olympique Marseille on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa Conference League semifinal, then will host PSV Eindhoven three days later.
Richard Ledezma was a 90th minute substitute for PSV Eindhoven on Sunday afternoon in their 4-2 home win over Willem II Tilburg. PSV still have the narrowest of chances to overtake leaders Ajax over the final three games. They next have a tough visit to Feyenoord on Sunday.