A solitary strike from the Dutchman was all that separated the sides, with the Rotterdam outfit steadily closing in on second place
With the Champions League play-offs still reachable for both sides, the Kuyp faithful were treated to a series of frenzied opening exchanges. AZ dominated possession, but a wayward crossbar-rattling delivery from Poulsen were all the visitors had to show for their dominance.
Sekou Cisse then drew a fingertip save from Esteban, with poor initial handling from the forward allowing the Alkmaar defence to snuff out the danger. The Costa Rican keeper was called into action again in the 17th minute, clumsily collecting a Ruben Schaken delivery.
The hosts were dealt a blow when Guyon Fernandez was forced off in the 26th minute, a collision minutes earlier taking its toll on the forward. Annas Achabar, the Dutchman’s substitute, had his first effort on target shortly after. The attempt was a timid one however, and easily dealt with by Esteban.
Feyenoord continued to be the brighter side, but failed to convert their dominance into chances or goals. AZ failed to find any rhythm of note, with much of the Alkmaar’s side combination play failing to provide incisiveness.
The Alkmaar side, despite making no substitutions, looked crisper after the interval. An early attack almost saw the visitors find the breakthrough, but Feyenoord regained the momentum soon afterwards. Jordy Clasie and Schaken exchanged chances, with the former seeing his long range effort fly wide before his compatriot failed to convert from close range.
The hosts were rewarded for their dominance in the 54th minute, with Bakkal opening the scoring. The midfielder did well to latch onto a powerful pass from Ron Vlaar before coolly converting past Esteban.
The visitors appeared unable to muster a response, turning to physicality rather than creativity in their search for an equaliser. Brett Holman was fortunate to avoid a booking after a clumsy challenge on Clasie, while Nick Viergever’s foul on Cisse could have warranted a dismissal.
The hosts continued to function well without the usual inspiration of El Ahmadi in midfield, with the deputizing Clasie continuing to perform in midfield. The youngster sent Cisse into space on more than one occasion, but his compatriot failed to extend his side’s lead.
Feyenoord appeared nervous in the closing stages, with AZ pulling out all the stops in their search for a crucial goal. The hosts' man between the sticks, Mulder, weathered the storm capably, brilliantly denying both Viergever and Boymans late on.
The win sees Feyenoord pip the visitors into second, a position that would send the Rotterdammers into the Champions League playoffs should they not drop points in their remaining games. AZ will likely have to win both their matches should they wish to remain in contention for a place in Europe's premier competition.