Only one team deserved to win on Thursday, and that was Feyenoord. For ninety five minutes, the Rotterdammers displayed iron discipline in their quest for victory, and were rewarded accordingly. 'This is what we're good at, these knock-out matches, not those pool matches in the Champion's league,' van Hooijdonk said after the match. 'And the fact that Inter underestimated us a bit gave us the additional edge. Sure, if you hear that they're resting players and that their trainer reckons they can pull it off without them, that gets on your nerves and gives that extra grain of inspiration'.
'We managed to play our own game. Calm, disciplined, falling back on time and pressurising as soon as the opponent crossed the centre. That was the key to the success,' Patrick Paauwe thought, who because of an injury to his left ankle struggled to get his teeth into the match. 'I had a tingling sensation and my leg felt weak quite quite quickly. And to make things worse I also got hit early on. That meant I had to minimise risk, which I didn't manage entirely successfully. It was tough but certainly worth it. I've got a pressure bandage on it now to avoid it swelling again.'
Back to the game, in which Feyenoord started remarkably strong. Kalou, Bosvelt, Emerton and Ono were quick to expose Inter's weaknesses with a few offensive strikes. Although not immediately rewarding, it gave the Rotterdam team the mental advantage. 'The good start helped us throughout the game,' Paul Bosvelt confirmed. 'Even if you have a weaker patch in the game, you still have the confidence.' Inter was really only a threat when Feyenoord gave the ball away unnecessarily. 'They let you come at them, and then gamble on you losing it. Then they're at your goal like lightning. We had our scary moments.'
Rzasa's and Ono's suspensions and Kalou's possible injury are the only real downsides on the way to the final, although none of the Feyenoorders want to think about it at the moment. Johan Elmander: 'The next game is going to be a serious battle. Inter is certainly unlikely to leave the seasoned players at home next time. But we did show this evening that nothing is impossible.' Boneventure Kalou: 'Nothing is won yet. Inter's chances are still the same as they were. They still only have to score once. But although we will seriously focus on that, we should just enjoy this victory for a bit. Only a bit, because NAC is waiting on Sunday. Another game we're going to win.'