It rapidly became clear that the latest edition of the Rotterdam derby was going to be an exciting one. Feyenoord created a number of chances, as they pushed forward looking for the early breakthrough. The last Saturday night match at De Kuip was AZ’s visit in mid-November and it seemed that the home side were set on recreating the same sort of atmosphere that helped them secure three points then. Nicky Hofs was dangerous on no fewer than three occasions. Only visiting keeper René Ponk and bad luck denied him the opening goal.
Yet it was Sparta that drew first blood. Rachid Bouaouzan had pulled a shot just wide after only three minutes, but the next opportunity was finished with more aplomb by Cvetkov, who got his head to Jeffrey Vlug’s cross to give his side the lead.
The travelling support was still celebrating when they were abruptly drowned out by the home fans. A Nicky Hofs free kick hit the wall but when the ball fell to Charisteas the Greek rattled it past Ponk to level things up within a minute.
After the spectacular start the game developed into an entertaining contest. Charisteas was responsible for the next chance, although the Feyenoord attacker was unable to keep his effort on target. But the goal was clearly in the pipeline and it came out just ahead of the half hour. Referee Braamhaar played a large part mind, pointing to the spot when Sjaak Polak was adjudged to have handled. It looked at first sight like a case of ball to hand rather than hand to ball, but Lucius was not feeling charitable, preferring to net the penalty without any further ado to give his team the lead.
Sparta had the big chances before the break. Anthony Obodai shot just wide and Bouaouzan tested Timmer’s form with a good drive. The Feyenoord showed that he was in fine fettle however, defusing the danger in typical fashion.
The visitors from the other side of the city started best after the turnaround and got a goal back just after the restart. Lucius gave the ball away and the ball eventually fell to Vlug, who chanced his arm only to miss the target. But as the ball swept across goal Moreno Freire poked it into the net and Sparta were back in it.
Vlug was slowly but surely becoming a thorn in Feyenoord’s side and the talented striker engineered two shots within a minute of the goal. Timmer was in the way on both occasions, but it was a sign of the visitors’ increasing confidence.
Koeman decided he needed to rectify things before they got any worse, bringing on first Vincken and then Van Hooijdonk, and they proved to be a couple of great decisions. Vincken repaid his coach on 74 minutes by scoring his first goal at De Kuip. The fact that the youngster has been out of action for much of the season with an injury no doubt added to his joy at giving Feyenoord a two-goal cushion.
Van Hooijdonk almost added a fourth with a free kick, but the big man’s effort veered just wide. By that time Charisteas was hobbling down the tunnel after an inelegant tackle by Sparta Ponk.
The visitors almost pulled off an equaliser at the death with Timmer already beaten, but Vincken saved the day – and two points – at the far post.
Feyenoord – Sparta 3-2
15’ 0-1 Cvetkov
16’ 1-1 Charisteas
29’ 2-1 Lucius (pen)
46’ 2-2 Moreno Freire
74’ 3-2 Vincken
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Vlaar, Bahia; De Guzman, Hofs, Lucius, Pardo (68’ Van Hooijdonk); Kolkka, Charisteas (79’ Derijck), Huysegems (61’ Vincken)
Sparta: Ponk; De Roover, Olfers, Schenkel, Polak; Van Bueren, Moreno Freire (58’ Van Dijk), Obodai; Vlug (78’ Oost), Cvetkov (74’ Emnes), Bouaouzan