Feyenoord started strongly against their Rotterdam rivals. With Jon Dahl Tomasson in the starting line-up for the first time in several months the home side made its intentions clear from the first whistle.
Sparta’s new keeper Cassio Ramos was an unexpected bonus for Feyenoord, because the debutant goalie was finding it hard to take command of his own box, sowing something close to panic in his defence.
On 10 minutes the keeper had immense difficulty with Diego Biseswar cross, almost letting in Tomasson, who was just a step away from snatching the ball. Soon after, Ramos showed a frightening lack of control after a back pass, skying the ball. Andwélé Slory was just too later to punish him.
It appeared a matter of time until the keeper’s untidiness was punished. That moment came on 18 minutes. Diego Biseswar ran down a Dwight Tiendalli ball and seeing Ramos well off his line the youngster lobbed the Brazilian adroitly to open the scoring.
The hosts enthusiastically celebrated the goal, but it did not open the floodgates as perhaps hoped. Leon Vlemmings watched his side cede ground to the visitors and revert to the long ball more often than not.
Sparta were unable to exploit the extra space however. And when the visitors did get without shooting range, Henk Timmer was able to snuff out the danger. Feyenoord therefore went in one ahead at the break.
The second half was less tidy, but also more attractive. Despite the lack of good football on show both sides created chances. Kevin Strootman was the first to try his luck, spraying a free kick across goal, but Feyenoord replied through Tomasson, Slory and Roy Makaay.
The biggest opportunity came after the hour and it fell to Slory, who was sent a stick to chase by Biseswar. The striker delayed his shot too long however and the Sparta defence were able to clear their lines. Not long after Biseswar plonked a free kick onto Makaay’s head from the right, but the effort went just over.
Feyenoord were showing more and more self-confidence and that allowed them to push the boat out a little more. The result was one of the best attacks of the final 15 minutes.
Karim El Ahmadi was at the root of things, playing a first wall pass against Tomasson and a second against Biseswar, before letting rip. The drive whizzed centimetres past the post.
As the clock ticked down Feyenoord were forced to defend a couple of corner kicks. Visiting keeper Ramos even came up for the second, but despite getting his head to the ball, he was unable to direct it towards goal and the hosts survived.
Feyenoord – Sparta Rotterdam 1-0
18’ 1-0 Biseswar
Bookings: Promes, Vermes, Slijngard, Godee, Tiendalli
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Nieveld, Hofland, Leerdam; El Ahmadi (82’ Kobussen), Tomasson, Fer; Slory (63’ Wijnaldum), Makaay and Biseswar (87’ Pedro).
Sparta Rotterdam: Ramos; Vermes, Knol, Promes, Slijngard; Godee, Slot (72’ Rose), Strootman, Falkenburg (82’ Abul); Poepon and Duplan (30’ John).