Maduka Okoye was beaten twice between the sticks as Sparta Rotterdam fell 2-0 to Feyenoord in the first-leg semifinals clash in the Europa Conference League playoffs.
Okoye, 21, has been one of Sparta’s most outstanding performers 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 jostle for a lone Europa Conference 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 Borussia 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 put the hosts ahead from the spot on the half-hour mark.
Two minutes later, it got worse when Sparta’s defender Tom Beugelsdijk directed the ball past Okoye, scoring an own goal to hand Feyenoord a commanding lead.
To make it past their illustrious foes, Sparta need to beat Feyenoord by three clear goals in the return leg.