No fewer than three regular first-teamers were forced out of the reckoning in the run up to the match. André Bahia jetted off to Brazil for personal reasons, while Theo Lucius was ruled out with a rib injury. Skipper Giovanni van Bronckhorst completed the trio by twisting his ankle in the warm-up. It paved the way for Norichio Nieveld to make his debut, while Kelvin Leerdam came in at left back
Feyenoord’s makeshift defence came under some heavy pressure in the first half. Only good work by Henk Timmer in goal kept the Rotterdammers on level terms.
The keeper‘s best period came just after the half-hour, when he foiled the home side no fewer than three times. First Timmer fisted away Lasse Schöne’s effort after the Dane beat Kevin Hofland all hands up. The keeper followed that up with a double save from the rebound as Jhonny van Beukering pounced.
Timmer was ably assisted by Karim El Ahmadi at the resulting corner, as El Ahmadi cleared off the line. Dennis Rommedahl had earlier had an effort from out wide blocked by Timmer.
The Feyenoord goalie’s opposite number Gabor Babos had less to do at the other end of the pitch. The game was all of a third of the way in before he was called into action. Andwélé Slory’s shot on the turn was not a problem for the Hungarian. Otherwise Feyenoord threatened from dead-ball situations but were unable to get the breakthrough.
After the break Feyenoord gradually started to get a foothold in the game, although the visitors were none too pretty going forward. Possession was all too readily surrendered and a clutch of free kicks was given away.
The biggest chance after the break did however fall to Feyenoord. Diego Biseswar was found by Nieveld, after an impressive interception. Biseswar made for goal, before rifling off a drive that Babos had to be at his best to save.
Jon Dahl Tomasson was on by then. Back from a long injury layoff, the Dane was quickly in the action. His canny cross found Roy Makaay, who shot wide. Not long after Biseswar put through Slory on Babos, but the effort went the wrong side of the post.
That was to be the last chance of the game for Feyenoord. The home side looked to have run out of ideas too, as NEC found it increasingly difficult to penetrate into the danger zone. But with the game in time added on, a free kick by Youssef El-Akchaoui found Milano Koenders, who headed in unchallenged. It was the final move of the game, as referee Braamhaar called time not long after.
NEC Nijmegen – Feyenoord 1-0
90’ 1-0 Koenders
Bookings: Sibum, Kivuvu, Slory
NEC: Babos; Dani Fernandez, Pothuizen, Koenders, El Akchaoui; Sibum, Davids, Schone; Rommedahl (67’ Ntibazonkiza), Van Beukering (81’ Janssen) and Bouaouzan (75’ Kivuvu).
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Nieveld, Hofland, Leerdam; El Ahmadi, Wijnaldum (57’ Tomasson), Fer; Slory (81’ Pedro), Makaay and Biseswar.