The selection of Van Persie ahead of new internationals Smolarek and Elmander was a big surprise, but coach Van Marwijk felt that the youngster had earned his chance. 'Van Persie is a big talent who’s making excellent progress. You have to give a lad like that a chance.'
Feyenoord started sluggishly in the Gelredome, and the home side pinned the visitors in their own half in the opening period without creating any real opportunities. Yet Feyenoord it was that took the lead on twenty-five minutes with their first goal-bound effort. Kalou broke down the left on the counter, before threading the ball through. Van Hooijdonk stepped over the ball and Shinji Ono shot and scored.
Kalou might have made it two a few minutes later but Jevric kept the Ivorian’s solid strike out. It was a pivotal moment because Vitesse equalised seconds later. Kreek’s free kick caused confusion between Van Hooijdonk and Zoetebier, allowing Stefanovic to nip in and score.
The goal fired Feyenoord up and introduced a period of fine Rotterdam football. Kalou was looking dangerous and the visitors started to create openings. Robin van Persie first sent a powerful header just wide, then the youngster danced past three men to find Rzasa with a pinpoint pass, but the Pole just screwed his shot off target.
Feyenoord continued to dominate in the second act. Again, however, when the goal came it was against the run of play. Hofs and Sikora started the attack and when the ball came in, Mbamba nipped ahead of Gyan to score via a post.
The goal somewhat knocked the stuffing out of Feyenoord and they had to rely on Edwin Zoetebier to stay in the game on two occasions. Bert van Marwijk brought on Leonardo, Korneev and Elmander for Van Persie, Kalou and Rzasa but it was not to be. In stoppage time Ono struck the bar from the edge of the box and Van Hooijdonk saw a header land on top of the net. In the end Feyenoord left for home empty-handed.
Vitesse-Feyenoord 2-1 (1-1)
25’ 0-1 Ono
29’ 1-1 Stefanovic
51’ 2-1 Mbamba
Vitesse: Jevric; Cornelisse, Knol, Stefanovic, Nanu; Hofs (76’ Amoah) Diarra, Kreek, Fortes; Martel (18’ Mbamba), Sikora (78’ Laros).
Feyenoord: Zoetebier; Emerton, Gyan, Paauwe, Rzasa (80’ Elmander); Kalou (76’ Korneev), Bosvelt, Van Wonderen, Van Persie (67’ Leonardo); Ono, Van Hooijdonk.
Referee: R. Luinge