It took a penalty from Barry Ferguson 11 minutes from the end to level after Japanese superstar Shinji Ono had fired a sensational opener.
Rangers now have it all to do at De Kuip next Thursday if they are to remain in the UEFA Cup after Feyenoord prevented the home side playing for long spells.
It wasn’t a classic performance from Alex McLeish’s men by any means and a goal in Holland is essential after an impressive display from the visitors.
The teams were welcomed onto the pitch by an atmosphere the likes of which has never been more nerve-tingling at Ibrox.
Unfortunately it spilled over before kick-off as fighting broke out between the Rangers fans and the volatile Dutch support in the corner between the Broomloan and Govan Stands.
Patrick Paauwe’s free-kick in the 12th minute took a deflection off the wall but Stefan Klos was well positioned and caught the ball easily, then a superb run and cross by Peter Lovenkrands brought Rangers a corner.
The kick eventually fell to Bert Konterman but his long-range effort was too high.
The former Feyenoord man was left standing just after that when Bonaventure Kalou took a pass from Kees van Wonderen and turned before hitting a drive low and just wide.
The visitors continued to press and Van Hooijdonk headed over from a pinpoint cross by Ono after 19 minutes as Rangers struggled to find any rhythm.
An apparent lack of application was upsetting the Ibrox management team of Alex McLeish and Andy Watson as they appeared at the edge of the technical area on numerous occasions to register their displeasure with the team.
Feyenoord, perhaps sensing they had the initial control of the proceedings, showed they weren’t afraid to put in a tackle with howls from the home support greeting every foul. That included the one by Rzasa on Caniggia in the 25th minute for which the Feyenoord full-back was booked.
Rangers central-defensive partnership of Lorenzo Amoruso and Tony Vidmar were struggling to keep track of Van Hooijdonk and Jon Dahl Tomasson, largely as the two strikers consistently dropped off their markers and into midfield to take possession.
The first half continued along the same vein, although as it wore on Rangers did compose themselves slightly better.
Stephen Hughes tried a long-ranger five minutes from the interval to no avail and it was becoming clear that’s what Rangers would be restricted to by a stubborn Feyenoord back four.
Half time came and went with no changes in personnel, although Rangers were if anything slightly sharper upon the resumption of play.
In the 47th minute Van Hooijdonk was booked for a shocking challenge on Stephen Hughes, clattering into the youngster’s knee after the ball had gone.
The Rangers fans were incensed as was coach Andy Watson who raced to the touchline and began remonstrating with the fourth official.
This seemed to crank up the noise level and Rangers responded by pressurising Feyenoord.
Amoruso should have done better from Lovenkrands’ corner when he headed over Zoetebier’s goal after getting away from his marker.
Van Hooijdonk found Tomasson in the 58th minute for a run and powerful shot that fizzed over the Rangers crossbar.
A minute later, the stadium erupted to the arrival on the pitch of Michael Mols as a substitute for the largely ineffective Flo.
The had made a penetrating run moments later through the middle of the Feyenoord defence but lacked the legs to go all the way. Rangers at this time were allowing themselves to be pinned back by the Dutch.
Van Hooijdonk swerved in a vicious free-kick in the after 66 minutes after Amoruso had fouled Tomasson and Klos was at full stretch to turn the ball for a corner.
Five minutes later Rangers conceded the vital away goal that always looked possible when Shinji Ono picked the ball up midway inside the Ibrox half after uncertainty in the home midfield.
The Japanese midfielder’s crisp shot was too powerful for Klos and soared into the net as the majority of Ibrox sat in stunned silence.
Rangers knew attack was the only option after that but, predictably, Feyenoord were content with what they had and tried to close the door.
There were loud roars for a penalty in the 78th minute when Loovens appeared to hold Lovenkrands down, but the spot kick was given a minute later when the Dane was felled by the same opponent.
Barry Ferguson slammed the ball to Zoetebier’s right and the stage was set for 10 final minutes of UEFA Cup high drama.
Robin van Persie committed a disgraceful chop down on Ricksen three minutes from time and was rightly booked as the Rangers full-back lay in agony.
As the match drew to a close there was a definite feeling Rangers hadn’t imposed themselves as well as was hoped – a fact that must be altered in time for next week’s Rotterdam return.
RANGERS (4-3-3): Klos; Ricksen, Amoruso, Vidmar, Numan; Hughes (Latapy 81), Konterman, Ferguson (c); Caniggia, Flo (Mols 59), Lovenkrands. Unused subs – McGregor (Gk), McCann, Dodds, Kanchelskis, Ross.
FEYENOORD (4-4-2): Zoetebier; Emerton, Loovens, Paauwe, Rzasa; Kalou (Van Persie 56), Van Wonderen, Bosvelt (c), Ono; Tomasson, Van Hooijdonk. Unused subs – Timmer (Gk), Gyan, Aros, Smolarek, Korneev, Dos Santos.
Bookings: Rangers – Ricksen (83); Feyenoord – Rzasa (25), Van Hooijdonk (47), Bosvelt (79), Tomasson (90).
Referee: Eric Poulat
Man of the match: Barry Ferguson
Moment of the match: Ferguson’s excellent penalty