Feyenoord started poorly in defence and Ron Vlaar handed the visitors their first chance, misdirecting a pass that resulted in Wesley Sneijder having a dig at goal. Rosenberg also went close after some defensive uncertainty, but the Swede couldn’t find the net either.
The let-offs fired Feyenoord into offensive mode and when Salomon Kalou put Hofs through on the edge of the penalty area, the midfielder beat Vermaelen before launching a sweet drive past Ajax keeper Stekelenburg to give his side the lead. It was Hofs’s first goal of a season that has been devastated by injury.
But the cheering had scarcely subsided when Emanuelson played in Rosenberg and the Swede stroked home the leveller. Feyenoord responded well however. Patrick Paauwe tried his luck only to see his shot go off at a tangent, but it fortunately fell to Kuyt, who was inches away from restoring the home side’s lead with a header.
The effort showed that the Maassiders clearly had the upper hand and that remained so through to the half time whistle. Ajax looked a little out of their depth in attack, while Feyenoord’s three-man strike force gave the visitors’ defence a hard time. Stekelenburg was somehow able to beat out a shot by Castelen close to the break, but he was only postponing the inevitable. The game entered time added on as Kuyt pushed forward on the right, laying it off for Castelen, who made the most of the space he was afforded to restore Feyenoord’s lead.
The mood only improved after the restart as Koeman’s side showed it wasn’t content to rest on its laurels and try to defend a slender lead. Feyenoord continue to push forward and there was an immediate chance for Kuyt, although the striker suddenly lost his coordination and the danger was averted. But within seconds the Dutch international put things right. The move was started by Castelen on the right, but it was the finish that impressed most, as Kuyt slammed the ball past Stekelenburg.
The goal effectively ended Ajax’s hopes of getting back into the game and the Rotterdammers took full control. There could have been a fourth for the hosts when André Bahia found himself with the goal at his mercy, but the Brazilian botched his finish. Kalou was the next to threaten, only to see Stekelenburg save his header and the keeper kept out another good header on 67, when his reflex save denied Paauwe.
Otherwise there were few real gilt-edged chances on either side, although Huntelaar did bring the gap back to one goal at the death, but despite three minutes of time added on the Champions League round of 16 participants were unable to threaten an equaliser.
Feyenoord – Ajax 3-2
21’ 1-0 Hofs
22´ 1-1 Rosenberg
45´ 2-1 Castelen
47´ 3-1 Kuyt
89´ 3-2 Huntelaar
Yellow: Hofs, Greene, Lindenbergh, Grygera
Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Greene (78´ Collen), Vlaar, Bahia, Bosschaart; Hofs (90´ Boussaboun), Paauwe, De Guzman; Castelen, Kuyt, Kalou (83´ Van Hooijdonk).
Ajax: Stekelenburg; Grygera, Maduro, Vermaelen, Emanuelson; Galasek, Sneijder (61´ Sarpong), Lindenbergh; Rosales, Huntelaar, Rosenberg (79` Babel).