Kick off was preceded by an amazing spectacle. As the teams lined up in front of the main stand and the bank of photographers, the crowd’s eyes looked to the heavens.
Suddenly an eagle came into view above the stadium. After circling for a minute or so the bird – the club’s emblem – landed on the centre spot. The performance garnered a huge round of applause from crowd and players alike.
So the atmosphere was great in the stadium as the game got underway. The home side went forward at every opportunity, which got the home support on their side. The first chances were not long in coming either. In the first minute Ruben Amorim drove over when he had just Timmer to beat. The second major chance came eight minutes in. Cardozo rattled off a rasping shot towards the near corner. Timmer was well beaten, but the ball hit the inside of the post and back into play.
Benfica kept up the pressure. After eleven minutes Luisão was close to breaking the deadlock, but appeared to be surprised to be in so much space a metre or so from Timmer. The defender ran the ball over the line. Feyenoord were finding it difficult to get into the game. Defensive errors were not helping, including a few from Vlaar.
The last line of defence was looking as solid as ever however. Timmer’s performance meant that the sides went in at the break all-square. On 27 minutes he saved Aimar’s free kick. Ten minutes later the Feyenoord keeper had to be on his toes to stop Cardozo’s driven effort. An Aimar header right on half time was less dangerous though. The Argentinian nodded wide without being challenged.
At the other end, Michael Mols was responsible for the Rotterdammers’ first threat. The build-up play was good, but the shot sailed over.
Feyenoord were in the game much more in the second half. As a result, it was more of a contest. Benfica did take the lead on 69 minutes, but it was due to some individual class rather than collective superiority. Cardozo had been a thorn in the side before the break and on 67 minutes he tested Timmer again. The keeper managed to punch clear that time, but within two minutes he was beaten by the striker’s drive as Benfica went one up.
The rest of the game was mostly taken up with substitutions. The Portuguese coach seemed to have the best in reserve, including fans’ favourite Reyes, who almost doubled Benfica’s lead within a minute of coming on. The post saved the day for the Rotterdammers again. A second substitute – Balbao – also went close, only to be foiled by a last-ditch save by Timmer. Benfica – Feyenoord 1-0
69’ 1-0 Cardozo Bookings:
Buijs, Maxi Pereira Referee:
Quim; Maxi Pereira (76’ Nelson), Luisão (86’ Miguel Vitor), Katasouranis (76’ Binya), Léo (86’ Jorge Ribeiro); Urreta (60’ Mantorras), Yebda (78’ Reyes), Carlos Martins, Ruben Amorim (60’ Balboa); Aimar (72’ Nuno Gomes) and Cardozo (72’ Makukula). Feyenoord:
Timmer; De Cler, Bahia, Vlaar (46’ Buijs), Greene (80’ Nieveld); Van Bronckhorst, Landzaat, Wijnaldum (60’ Fer); Bruins (69’ Hofs), Tomasson (65’ Biseswar) and Mols (80’ Janota).