For the first time in a long time, Sparta are looking to qualify for Europe, but that dream drew closer to being aborted with an unfortunate loss on Wednesday evening
Nigerian goalkeeper Maduka Okoye conceded two cheeky goals as Sparta Rotterdam fell 2-0 to Feyenoord in the first leg of their semifinals clash in the Eredivisie’s Europa Conference League playoffs.
Okoye has been one of Sparta’s most outstanding stars of the 2020/21 Eredivisie campaign, keeping ten clean sheets to help Henk Fraser’s side finish eighth on the league table.
That impressive finish placed the Spartans in the pool of four teams, alongside Feyenoord, Groningen, and Utrecht, to justle for a lone Europa League ticket.
Sparta therefore made the short trip to the Stadion Feijenoord in search of their first taste of continental football since 1986 when they lost a UEFA Cup tie versus Borrusia Monchengladbach.
But De Kasteelheren met an inspired home side equally keen on ending the campaign on a high.
And the night quickly turned sour for Okoye and his teammates as Steven Berghuis struck a penalty kick beyond the reach of the Super Eagles’ shot-stopper on the half-hour mark.
It got worse when Sparta’s defender Tom Beugelsdijk directed an own-goal past Okoye two minutes later to guide Feyenoord to a commanding lead.
To make it past their illustrious foes, Sparta need to beat Feyenoord by three clear goals in the return leg.