Feyenoord almost had the dream start after four minutes when Kalou steamed down the middle, laying off to Van Hooijdonk on the far post. But the striker’s attempt rebounded off a defender to Buffel, who couldn’t clear a blue and white shirt either and the opportunity was gone.
There was a bigger chance for the home side soon after. Leonardo dos Santos chipped in a ball and Kees van Wonderen’s attempt to clear put Lodewijks under pressure as the ball careered off the bar.
The game finally sprung into life with the opening goal on the twenty-four minute mark. Bosvelt picked the ball up after a shabby pass from Duits and found Robin van Persie who launched a rasping effort that beat keeper Weevers to give Feyenoord the lead.
Two minutes further and the game should have been over and out, but Van Hooijdonk missed the target from close in with his head. The Rotterdammers began to put the home side under sustained pressure, without forcing the opening, until that is five minutes before the break. Van Gastel misjudged his backpass and Thomas Buffel nipped in to poke the ball home to double Feyenoord’s lead.
After the halftime oranges De Graafschap came out with more oomph and actually grabbed a goal back on 52. Van der Haar fed Van Leerdam, who struck a fine shot from the edge of the box that had Lodewijks beat as it thundered into the top corner.
Things got worse for Feyenoord soon after when Thomas Buffel stormed towards keeper Weevers with what looked like a goal in his feet, only to go to ground a little too willingly. Referee Bossen was so unimpressed that he presented the Belgian with his second yellow card of the game, ending Buffel’s participation prematurely.
Three minutes later and ten became nine, as Gérard de Nooijer pulled back Zafarin and the man in the middle doled out another red card, this time a straight one to leave Feyenoord in a pickle. To add to the pain, Van Gastel converted the resulting freekick to bring the league’s basement club back to parity at 2-2.
Coach Van Marwijk then watched his team take another blow within 180 seconds when Van der Haar swept home a Leonardo dos Santos cross to give De Graafschap the lead.
Feyenoord looked dead in the water with two men less and a goal deficit, but the Rotterdam spirit shone through in the game’s last quarter to secure all three points.
It was Kalou who curled the ball over a stranded Weevers with fifteen on the clock to find the net and bring his side level, then five minutes before the whistle, the Ivorian slalomed through the opponent’s box before being jostled from the ball and Pierre van Hooijdonk slotted the resulting penalty home to give Feyenoord the unlikeliest of victories.
De Graafschap 3-4 Feyenoord (0-2)
24‚ Van Persie 0-1, 40‚ Buffel, 52‚ Van Leerdam 1-2, 60‚ Van Gastel 2-2, 63‚
Van der Haar 3-2, 76‚ Kalou 3-3, 84‚ Van Hooijdonk 3-4.
Wevers – Berck Beelenkamp, Van Gastel, Van der Kruis, Hermans
(46‚ Bakens) – Dos Santos, Hertog, Duits (Van der Haar), Van Leerdam – Ter
Lodewijks – Emerton, Van Wonderen, De Nooijer, Paauwe – Kalou (85‚
Acuña), Bosvelt, Ono (91‚ Lurling), Van Persie (62‚ Loovens) – Buffel, Van
Yellow: Van der Kruis, Berck Beelenkamp (De Graafschap), Van Wonderen
Red: Buffel (2x yellow), De Nooijer (Feyenoord)