Both sides started nervously and the opening minutes were characterised by a slew of misdirected passes. Bart Goor had the first shot on goal, but it didn’t find the target.
The match was ten minutes old by the time Ajax threatened the visitors’ goal. Keeper Babos made a meal of a corner, but recovered well to keep out a Rafael van der Vaart effort from close in.
Ajax coach Ronald Koeman felt the need to switch things around after a quarter of an hour. The injured Pienaar left the field as Wesley Sneijder came on. But the substitution had little impact on a match that was crying out for someone to grab it by the scuff of the neck. Feyenoord were having problems putting the home defence under any pressure and were finding it difficult to stay in formation.
As a consequence, Ajax started to take control and the first real chance of the match fell to the home side. With 23 played, Trabelsi crossed from the right and Van der Vaart found space to direct a powerful header goalwards but Babos was up to the task.
Five minutes later the Hungarian keeper was unable to stop Mauro Rosales’s diagonal drive that gave Ajax the lead.
Feyenoord might have levelled things within minutes, when Salomon Kalou and Bart Goor joined forces to get within Vonk’s goal. Kalou’s final lob was weak however and the threat fizzed out.
The match heated up not long after when Nigel de Jong went in strongly against Chris Gyan in an aerial duel. The Ajax defender came off worse and had to be substituted, but the Ghanaian wasn’t exactly unscathed and had to retire for lengthy treatment. When he returned Gyan had stitches in a head wound and a fancy skullcap.
Feyenoord kept their heads in the search for the equaliser and were rewarded with a goal just before the break. A cross from the right was headed back across goal by Kalou and Dirk Kuyt met it with his instep to power the ball past Vonk into the right-hand corner.
And yet the hosts almost restored their lead at the death. Saidi tried to clear an incoming corner, but ended up hitting his own post. Anastasiou returned the rebound with interest, but Babos was up to the task once more.
The Amsterdammers continued to have the upper hand at the start of the second half, as Feyenoord found themselves under pressure, clearing from the line on more than one occasion.
The half was fifteen minutes old before the Maassiders made their first forages into home quarters, raising the hopes of the travelling fans, although Ajax continued to be the most likely scorers.
Gullit decided to go for the three points with ten left on the clock, bringing on Thomas Buffel for Kalou, but it was goalscorer Mauro Rosales who almost doubled his tally a few minutes later. Gábor Babos’s feline-like reactions denied him and Feyenoord held on for a point.
AJAX-FEYENOORD 1-1 (1-1)
1-0 Rosales (28.)
1-1 Kuyt (44.)
Referee: Pieter Vink
YellowsGeel: Escudé (holding Kalou, 19.), Sneijer (foul on Kalou, 39.), Boukhari (foul on Castelen, 70.), Goor (pulling back Galasek, 85.)
Vonk; Trabelsi, Grygera, Escudé, De Jong (Heitinga, 34.); Pienaar (Sneijder, 16.), Galásek, Maxwell; Rosales, Anastasiou, Van der Vaart (Boukhari, 68.)
Babos; Gyan, Saidi, Paauwe, Mtiliga; Castelen, Ono, Ghaly (Loovens, 86.), Goor; Kuyt, Kalou (Buffel, 80.)/smaller>/smaller>/fontfamily>