The Feyenoorders had barely recovered from their stunt against Inter, or trainer Bert van Marwijk had already started pointing out the importance of the upcoming clash against NAC in the San Siro dressing rooms. It's the fate of a team still involved on two fronts that they don't have the luxury of enjoying of a victory for too long. Even if you beat mighty Inter, the law of football states that the next match is still critical. The burning issue was therefore to what extent Feyenoord would manage to focus on the national competition, especially since Bert van Marwijk was forced to introduce two changes to the team. A torn hamstring kept Kalou from the pitch. His place was taken by Elmander. Patrick Paauwe, who with man and might had just managed his place against Inter was involved in the warming up, but spent the game in the dugout nursing his injured ankle. Loovens took his place.
Feyenoord started the match against NAC knowing that since professional football was introduced, the team from Breda had never won in the Kuip. It probably explains Henk ten Cate's team careful start, who with Glen Salmon started with only one striker. This allowed Feyenoord to carefully build up their offence, and understandably took full advantage. Understandable for a team that must still have felt the match against Internazionale in their legs, but not great for the spectators. So much so that in the gentle Spring sun, it was an effort not to doze off every now and then.
The opening phases of Feyenoord-NAC were a shrill contrast to the start of the match at San Siro. With four good chances in the first ten minutes in Italy, there was no danger in either area for a full twenty minutes in the Kuip. Pierre van Hooijdonk can't have been too surprised, as he had predicted the scenario immediately after the Inter match. "I've said it before, but even this win against Inter offers no guarantees for the NAC match. It's nothing to do with tiredness, but the result of the opponent's attitude. Here we were given the space to play ball. We'll just have to wait and see what happens in the Kuip'.
Van Hooijdonk's sombre predictions rang all too true on Sunday. NAC forced the Rotterdam team to come at them, and it's a known fact by now that this is not their forte. And since strangely enough NAC seemed pleased to take just the one point, silence reigned for a while in the Kuip. After a good twenty minutes, the crowd from Brabant was roused for a brief moment as Salon put one over the bar, but any real excitement had to wait until the 26th minute. Keeper Babos seemed to have developed something of a sunstroke as he nonchalantly picked up a back pass from Schenning, resulting in a fruitless free kick from Van Hooijdonk. Feyenoord had only one more chance in the first forty five, ten minutes before the interval when Emerton was allowed to advance down the right and put in a good cross. For a second, it looked as if Kees van Wonderen would meet the ball, but instead it careered over the top. The only highlight that remained in the first half was the interval whistle from referee Van Hulten.
Chances were also thin in the second half . A header by Van Persie off an Ono cross was all the Rotterdammers could muster. The eleven may have been able to force a result had Risamu's squeeze on Elmander been penalised, but the ref let it pass.
Feyenoord did eventually manage to put a little more pressure on Babos, probably because it realised it needed three points to keep leaders Ajax in its sights. Leaving more space as a result, NAC's Salmon almost managed to capitalise. After something over an hour, Marwijk knew the score and brought in Leonardo for Tomasson, placing Van Persie just behind Van Hooijdonk for the last 30. The change brought little joy, however. In fact, the best chance of the game was for NAC through Sergio.
Quarter of an hour before time, Van Marwijk brought on Korneev for Elmander, but even the popular Russian was unable to impact the match. Feyenoord nevertheless had the best chance of the game towards the end, as Van Persie set up Leonardo with a delightful ball off his heel. The Brazilian got the effort on target, but victory was denied by the keeper. Luck stayed out for Feyenoord until the last ten minutes when an effort by Sergio struck the bar.
So that was it. Despite a furious final offensive, Feyenoord must now face up to a damaging result as far as the domestic competition is concerned. And to top it all, Glenn Loovens left the pitch on a stretcher.
Referee: J. van Hulten
Yellow cards: Bobson, Van Persie, Penders, Van Wonderen
Feyenoord: Zoetebier; Emerton, Van Wonderen, Loovens (85' Gyan), Rzasa;
Elmander (75' Korneev), Bosvelt, Ono, Van Persie; Tomasson (61' Leonardo),
NAC: Babos; Risamasu (72' Hersi), Penders, Schenning, Gudelj, Schreuder;
Stewart, Petö, Sergio (79' Engelaar), Bobson; Salmon (60' Christiano).