Birds Blow It
Free of Cup commitments, the team that never was dismantled a distracted Grilled side 5-2, mirroring the first ever meeting between the sides. There was always going to be goals in this fixture, with 25 scored in just the five league derbies that they shared, and Grilled looked to have the better of it when they went 0-2 up in 21 minutes. Stefan Nilsson returned as Grilled's nemesis in chief, though, and he struck a hat-trick just weeks after supplying the winning goal the last time never faced Grilled.
Many expected this fixture to be a non-event had both teams made it to the semis, but a spate of upsets in the quarterfinals meant that never had no reason to pull any punches. They returned to their incisive wing play, while Grilled could at least welcome back Malaysian forward Subri from a potentially career-ending injury.
With almost an idential side from that which defended stoutly against Team Singapore last Wednesday, Grilled appeared to be mostly focused on getting through the tough match in one piece. A one-off attacking move sprung by Han Kok led to Spirig racing off without support, and the goal that came against the run of play was always welcome by the Grilled fans.
never retook the initiative after a short break as their Kum Min Kim received treatment for a bad fall, and their striker Andreas Sunesson must have evoked images of Ola Martinsson
in the Grilled supporters' minds as he made Grilled's defenders look foolish on several occasions. There was no end product, though, and the returning Subri increased Grilled's lead with a well-placed chip from just inside the penalty box.
The home fans responded admirably after a short spate of booing, and their chants drove their team forward. Even a full back four could do little when faced with the brillance of true wingers, and Ángel Ferrer in particular drove in so many crosses that one was bound to be converted. Stefan Nilsson met one at the near post with such strength that Sulaiman was blameless for letting it in.
It didn't help Grilled that Sunesson was in his element, and both Sid and Talib were thrown off his tail with alarming ease, leaving Sunesson to be able to find the bottom corner with a fantastic curler and tie the game up. Grilled were by now reeling on the ropes, and only the bar stopped Ovesson from putting never in front with a twenty-metre effort. As it was, that wasn't enough to save Grilled as the rebound was collected by Nilsson, who cut in from the side and launched a cannonball that Sulaiman was inches away from.
The half-time interval didn't seem to breathe any new life into a jaded-looking Grilled side, who appeared to have one eye on the Cup semifinal all the time. It was thus hardly a surprise when the excellent Sunesson sidefooted a fourth in after Nilsson let a low cross by Ferrer run through to him.
The high point of Grilled's token resistance came when Sid embarked on a long, winding run through central midfield and surprised Riis with an outlandish strike from nowhere that came off the underside of the bar. Subri was not too far away and sprinted towards the invitingly bouncing ball, but Skogsten cut ahead of him just in time to get it off the line.
never would add a fifth through Nilsson, who attained his fifteenth career hattrick, while central midfielder Grigore Morariu spared Grilled further blushes when his good-looking volley flashed wide of the top corner in the closing minutes.