Feyenoord won the game despite going behind after ten minutes. A seemingly uninspired ball managed to find Zico Tumba central in the box and the African went down after a featherlike brush with Brett Emerton. Rob Wielaert smashed home the resulting penalty.
That meant that Feyenoord were forced to make the pace and they did so with verve. On fourteen Buffel appeared to have levelled things as he sprinted in between two defenders to latch on to a Paauwe pass, before rasping in a diagonal drive that made the net bulge. The goal was ruled out for unclear reasons however.
Next came chances for Robin van Persie, Bonaventure Kalou and Pierre van Hooijdonk, who tested Dennis Gentenaar from distance, but the keeper was up to the challenge each time. Eight minutes before the break though Feyenoord got the breakthrough when a four-man attack gave the visitors the advantage. Bosvelt launched Van Hooijdonk with a beautiful pass and the Big Man aimed and fired with lethal precision in the top right corner to equalise.
As Feyenoord went looking for a swift second, Bonaventure Kalou seemed to twist something and had to leave the stage, making way for Anthony Lurling just before the turnaround.
The second half was all of five minutes underway when the home side were awarded a penalty. A chaotic scrumdown in the Feyenoord box ended with a headed chance for Govedarica. Van Hooijdonk kept the ball out, but Tumba pounced and when the Big Man tried to dispossess him the NEC frontman tumbled handily over the Feyenoord forward’s leg and the ref pointed to the spot. Rob Wielaert’s less than convincing kick was beaten out by Lodewijks however to keep the sides level.
Feyenoord then upped the ante in the search for three points and Lurling, Buffel and Bosvelt all went close. NEC continued to threaten too as the game ebbed and flowed and the tension mounted.
With fifteen to go Van Marwijk brought in the Argentinean crowbar Mariano Bombarda in the hope of prising the home defence open. It was to pay dividends right at the death as the substitute was floored just outside the box and Van Hooijdonk saw his freekick ricochet off Jarda Simr and into the net to give Feyenoord a priceless win in Nijmegen.
NEC 1-2 FEYENOORD (1-1)
1-0 Wielaert (10’, pen.)
1-1 Van Hooijdonk (34’)
1-2 Van Hooijdonk (87’)
Gentenaar; Wisgerhof, Wielaert, Govedarica, Leiwakabessy; Schuurman, Zonneveld, Hersi (Hristov, 88’), Van Rijswijk (Simr, 85’); Demouge and Tumba
Lodewijks; Emerton, Van Wonderen, De Nooijer, Paauwe; Kalou (Lurling, 43’), Bosvelt, Ono, Van Persie; Buffel (Bombarda, 77’) and Van Hooijdonk
Referee: D. van Egmond
Yellow cards: Wielaert, Bosvelt, Tumba, Van Hooijdonk