The final on 8 May will be the third UEFA Cup final for Feyenoord, who last won the tournament in 1974 when they beat Tottenham Hotspur. The 2002 aggregate victory was as much as Feyenoord deserved. They were stronger, hungrier and always more likely than an Inter side that leads the Italian Serie A and dominated the game.
Feyenoord began with the right mindset, but had to get used to the new formation in the centre of the field, where Brett Emerton took over the role of the suspended Shinji Ono. Elsewhere Mauricio Aros stepped in for Tomasz Rzasa and Chris Gyan was the given the right back job.
In a fine team performance it was the big man Pierre van Hooijdonk who set Feyenoord on their way, heading in a Robin van Persie cross on 17 minutes to the delight of the packed Kuip stadium.
The goal sparked the Italians into life and Feyenoord initially found themselves under pressure and unable to break out of their own half. As Inter’s corner kick count steadily increased, Ronaldo had two attempts on goal but the visitors were unable to create that killer chance.
It was a bit of surprise then that it was the Rotterdammers who got the next goal. Van Hooijdonk sent Kalou away and the Ivorian raced fully forty metres before seeing his effort parried by Tolda. The ball rebounded to Jon Dahl Tomasson however, and the Dane knocked the ball into the net to send his side in at the break two goals to the good.
Immediately after the restart Inter showed that though it needed three goals to elbow Feyenoord out of the final it was going for it. The Italians grazed the top of the bar twice in three minutes. The home side however generally controlled things, chiefly in the guise of the supreme Kalou who had the Italians dizzy with his fancy footwork.
Feyenoord were happy to play out the game of course and unfortunately it did lead to a yellow card for Brett Emerton, who went into the book for time wasting at a corner. The Aussie now misses the final.
The Feyenoord fans were gradually becoming convinced that the game was won, but were brought to their senses with 72 minutes on the clock when Ventola found himself one on one with Zoeterbier, but the home goalie was up to the task and blocked well.
As time wore on however the Italians did get more into the game and eventually scored with six minutes left. Cristiano Zanetti’s long-range effort beating everyone. Nerves really began to jangle in stoppage time. The fourth official had just held up his board to indicate that there would be three minutes of added time, when Leonardo dos Santos brought down Emre in the box and Kallon equalised for Inter.
The cherry was knocked off the cake but it was too little too late and Feyenoord kept their heads to reach the final where they will play Borussia Dortmund.
‘At the end of the match we were tired and could not hold the ball in the team, that gave Inter the chance to come back,’ admitted Van Hooijdonk.
‘But we have done something fantastic.’
FEYENOORD - INTERNAZIONALE 2-2 (2-0)
FEYENOORD: Zoetebier,Gyan,v.Wonderen, Paauwe,Aros,Emerton,Bosvelt,Tomasson, Kalou (Dos Santos/74),v.Hooijdonk, v.Persie (Leonardo/37)
INTERNAZIONALE: Toldo,Ferraro,Materazzi Di Biagio,J.Zanetti,Dalmat,C.Zanetti, Seedorf (Conceicao/58),Emre,Ventola, Ronaldo (Kallon/69)
Referee: Lopez Nieto,Spa
Yellow: Aros, Emerton (misses final), v. Hooijdonk; C.Zanetti, J.Zanetti, Ferraro, Di Biagio