Luis Lets Loose
The players admitted to being daunted by the sheer size of the Great Bluedragon Stadium, but put that aside to record their third successive victory over Bluedragon. Neutrals might have been baffled in the 34th minute as they saw some quite unfamiliar names on the scoreboard, as 30 year-old winger Ma Dai-Lin
claimed just the tenth goal of a distinguished career, only to be outdone by rightback Luis Alcántara
as the Argentine skipper bagged the fifth and sixth goals of his pro career, having gotten the fourth in Grilled's cup opener.
It was Bluedragon who did the threatening early on, as they put out a 3-4-3 formation, a change from the 3-5-2 they used to good effect against Shadow Chaser the previous league match. A frontline of three current and former national team stars would intimidate a lot of defenders, and Grilled had to tell Dewilde to play much more into the middle to counter their triple whammy. That didn't seem to work when Indonesian midfielder Giman Husaini found the passing lines to his more illustrious countrymen blocked and desicively surged between Grilled's central defenders, then left Bao-Tam flapping at his shot which was solidly planted to the right post.
Bluedragon's lack of a winger on their left told after 25 minutes, as Ma Dai-Lin
had free reign much of the time. Aznan Noor Yadah
did not manage to burst past Belgian defender Harmen Geurden, but spotted Dai-Lin overlapping on the inside. Once the ball was at his feet, Dai-Lin held off sweeper Fredrik Wennborn to trundle the ball into the net. Grilled's followers were goggle-eyed when Alcántara then rifled a shot into goal from the side of the penalty-area in the 32nd minute, and the captain proceeded to prove that lightning can strike twice in the same place by selling an elaborate dummy before putting Grilled 3-1 up two minutes later.
Some necks were craned to see whether Alcántara and Martinsson had somehow swopped jerseys before the game. The Swede was noticeably having an off-day, but Grilled hardly noticed as Ulf Hjortlind
announced his presence with a controversial goal as he charged down a throw by Bluedragon's goalie. Probably since he was a safe distance from Jeremy when he contacted the ball, the referee let it stand to the chagrin of the Bluedragon faithful. The prior departure of their sweeper Fredrik Wennborn due to the recurrance of an old knee injury may have been a factor.
Bluedragon started the second half very aggressively as they chased the game, as Johan Magunsson's time on the wings told against nominal winger Au-Yong Siu-Yue
. Siu-Yue was wanting in defence, and Magunsson's frequent crosses took their toll when Singapore national striker Gai Wai-Ming expertly took one on the fly and flicked it past Bao-Tam.
Wennborn's substitute Dussler then gave his team real hope after he tapped in their third goal off a magnificent set-up by Farrington. Grilled's spirits were wavering at this point, and Hjortlind made himself a hero once again in the 59th minute by sweeping home a pass by Martinsson, who to his credit gave up his first chance of the match. That goal swung the pendulum back in Grilled's favour, and Dewilde could have killed the game off minutes later when Martinsson's corner looped off Eyal's head to fall to him. Dewilde hesitated just a second, and that was enough for the man at the post to scramble the ball out of danger. No matter, as Hjortlind prised open the Bluedragon defence on his own in the 68th minute to put Grilled comfortably ahead.
Bluedragon were always a danger with their international-class quality up front, but their already meagre share of the possession required to create chances was eaten into by Giman Husaini's sending off in the 73rd minute for a professional foul. More bad luck appeared headed their way when Harmen Geurden clattered into Martinsson in the 81st minute and took the brunt of the impact, but the man endured the rest of the game with a few bruises extra.