Feyenoord v Sparta Rotterdam

Tonny Vilhena opened the scoring with a wonderful strike; credits EPA

Feyenoord maintained their position at the top of the Eredivisie by hammering city rivals Sparta Rotterdam 6-1 at De Kuip.

Nicolai Jorgensen scored twice in the second half, after superb strikes from Tonny Vilhena and Jens Toonstra.

Eric Botteghin added a header and despite Sparta pulling a goal back via Thomas Verhaar, Eljero Elia completed the scoring in stoppage time.

Feyenood on fire

Eric Bottenghin pays his respects after scoring; credits Feyenoord.nl

Feyenoord went into the game in a patchy run of form which had seen them win only once in five matches and claim a last minute draw against Utrecht last week.

However, as in most derby matches, form went out the window and Feyenoord dominated from the first whistle, coach Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s team utilising the whole pitch at De Kuip to try and stretch the deep Sparta defence.

Van Bronckhorst sets his team up in a classic dutch 4-3-3 with one holding midfielder and two attacking ahead.

Dirk Kuyt and Vilhena gave a masterclass in attacking midfield play, often running into spaces created by the Feyenoord wingers dragging the Sparta full backs short, whilst also feeding off Jorgensen’s superb hold up play, to which Sparta had no answer.

The width was provided by the lively wingers Toonstra and Elia who both hugged the touchline, ably supported by the full backs Miquel Nelom and Rick Karsdorp.

Karsdorp, in particular, showed why he is rated so highly with a fantastic performance and no wonder the club are keen to tie the 21 year old academy product down to a new contract to ward off foreign suitors.

It was no surprise when Vilhena gave Feyenoord the lead in the 24th minute, winning a 50/50 with Sparta Captain Kenneth Dougall outside the area before lashing home from the inside left channel.

Feyenoord doubled their lead just before half time when another long cross field pass, again making use of the whole pitch, found winger Toonstra on the edge of the sideline, he in turn helped the ball inside to full back Karsdorp who returned the ball back for Toonstra to volley home a wonderful goal from the inside right channel.

Jorgensen tapped home from a Toonstra cross just before the hour mark to make it 3-0 before adding another a few minutes later after being given too much space in the box, finishing with a low strike that went in off the post.

Eric Bottenghin added a fifth with a far post header, and celebrated by revealing a black armband in remembrance of the Chapecoense air disaster victims before Sparta pulled one back via substitute Thomas Verhaar with a fine headed goal.

Elia, who improved as the game went on, added a sixth in added time to put the seal on a memorable derby victory.

Sparta try to spoil the party

Sparta’s game plan was to sit deep and frustrate Feyenoord and hope to catch them on the counter with Loris Brogno a threat in behind, a tactic that served them well for the opening stages.

Their game plan went out the window however once Feyenoord scored twice in the first half.

After half time I expected Head Coach Alex Pastoor to alter his tactics, with the possible introduction of Thomas Verhaar and a more traditional 4-3-3 with one pivot to gain a foothold in the game going forward.

However, the second half provided much of the same until Verhaar was introduced in the 64th minute, and the passive nature of play by Sparta saw Feyenoord dominate proceedings and further goals were a formality.

In contrast to Feyenoord’s domination in full back areas, Sparta were exposed with the youthful Rick Van Drongelen and Denzel Dumfries often too keen to mark tight and square.

Pastoor may have been better defending in a zone rather than aggressively man to man, which created the spaces for Feyenoord to exploit as the Sparta full backs were dragged infield.

In the last phase of the game Pastoor attempted to stem the tide by reverting to a back three but the momentum had shifted so much due to Sparta’s passive display, any formation change was going to be negligible to the result.

Feyenoord:(4-3-3) Jones; Nelom, van der Heijden, Botteghin, Karsdorp; Vilhena, ElAhmadi, Kuyt; Elia, Toornstra, Jorgensen

Subs ( not used);

Sparta:(4-2-3-1) Kortsmit; van Drongelen, Vriends, Breuer, Dumfries; Dougall, Dijkstra; Spierings, Goodwin, El Azzouzi, Brogno

Referee: Bas Nijhuis

Attendance: 47,500