Zero Strikers Remain
Grilled opened up a welcome distance between themselves and seventh spot, but lost 28 year-old Belgian forward Dimitri Simon
to a foot injury, leaving them with no recognized quality strikers for the Cup quarterfinal against Team Singapore.
Fresh off last week's entertaining comeback, BravoRavo hoped to catch Grilled on the counterattack in the return fixture. They were however first to get caught out when a cheeky Dani Spirig
blind pass went right across van Liere's feet in the second minute, but the Dutchman was himself too taken aback to attempt the shot.
Despite the lack of true strikers, the rest of the team compensated by seemingly taking turns to forage upfield. Pakistani defender Nawaz Talib
was fearless in throwing himself head-first at a waist-high cross by van Liere in the 13th minute, which resulted in his first league goal for Grilled.
van Liere got the stadium standing when he arched about in midair for a bicycle kick that bounced off the turf and onto the post with Tao Thye-Loy well beaten. It will probably still make Grilled's end of season highlights video, though.
Even that might not have produced the impact that Simon's freak injury a while later had. Already Grilled's sole fit forward, the Belgian lifted his right foot to collect a high ball, only to watch a defender carelessly bring his studs down on it. Simon was clearly not going to be able to continue, and Alcántara only gave a resigned shrug as he waved Hjortlind on.
Hjortlind at least was eager to impress in only his second S-League appearance in six seasons, and was tireless in chasing down lost causes, pressurizing the BravoRavo defence. He could have had an assist when he nimbly rolled the ball for Han Kok to take a potshot, but that attempt connected with the crossbar.
His purple patch continued in the second half, as he worked the ball down the left after taking over from van Liere's dribble. Cleverly waiting for the penalty area to fill, he then made a bit of space for himself to send a telling cross in. There was some confusion but just when it looked as if Paullin must score, BravoRavo centerback Iskandar blasted the ball out of danger for a throw-in.
Sid dampened the opposition's spirits somewhat when he doubled Grilled's lead from a free-kick in the 64th minute, but mindful of last week's lesson, the Birds didn't let up in their attacking mission. Hjortlind, who has become known more for getting cautions (seven in his last ten competitive games) than goals, eventually made it 3-0 with his first S-League goal since a double against Hattrick all the time in Season Fourteen.
The game was put to bed when Sid thumped a penalty past Tao in the 81st minute, and another cutting run from van Liere down the left flank allowed Fabian Bona
to rub it in with a competent header three minutes later.