|Season 53||L||7 - 0||League|
|Season 53||L||3 - 4||League|
|Season 52||W||2 - 7||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 52||W||4 - 3||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 52||L||4 - 6||Tournament (Playoffs)|
Man Over Bird
Heijn Hits Out
Stanca's brave words before in the lead-up were reduced to so much piffle, as -= Manchester United =- maintained their 100% league record against Grilled with a 5-2 win at Old Trafford. The availability of much of their squad for transfer had not affected their fluency on the pitch, as wide men Ferry Heijn and Szymon Fedorczyk gave Rashid bin Ahmad
the nightmare of his life on the right.
The encounter had started promisingly enough for the Birds, who had Tian Yonghang
and Abdul bin Jantan
leading their teammates out, after being declared as co-captains for the season. This had been coming for some time, with the 35 year-old Qassem Madaini
having done his part for the past eight seasons, but now considerably slower and not a sure starter.
Rashid was the one who took the former Saudi international's spot, but it was apparent that he could barely get a handle on Fedorczyk from the beginning; the Polish winger simply had Rashid's number with his nimbleness, and it was all the new central defender could do to stop him with judicious smothering.
Grilled's best hope lay in slugging their opponents out before their defence became unravelled, and for that they had to thank Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
. Some have opined that the former wunderkind is in the process of unwinding his career, but the Number Eighteen signalled that he was far from done by holding Hausladen off as he bore down on goal for the opener.
That barely deterred the home fans, who recognized that Grilled were extremely vulnerable despite Mohd Safri's goal, and their hopes were raised when Ling Fuquan
tugged at Aleksa Aleksandrić right on the edge of the penalty area. Mario Sachau made the tough but correct call, and United sent Heijn to the spot. However, the penalty missed by inches.
It was a godsend for the Birds, but they had to capitalise on their good fortune by consolidating, which they pointedly failed in doing. Rashid's torture began in earnest when Fedorczyk turned him inside-out in the 15th minute - although the defender thought he had done enough by sticking his leg out to block, that only succeeded in causing the shot to sail over Wong Tian Han
, who had gotten low to make the save.
Wong consoled his distraught centreback over that, but it could not hide the fact that Grilled had serious problems down that flank. Abdul bin Jantan
began staying behind to help, but the veteran was never particularly defensively-minded, and was clueless when Heijn went on the overlap to put the hosts ahead with a precise chip.
The Birds did have their moments, such as when Tian's mesmerising turns led to Gastón Ovelar barging him down. This resulted in a caution for the wingback and allowed Grilled to get forward en masse, though Chow Ying Lee
's finish was expertly parried by Sylvain Barning.
The Dutch goalie was finally beaten again before the break when Zhu Changchun
's drive born of persistence took him through a throng of defenders. Before that, Wong Ping Shun
had taken the fall for him when his lost ball threatened to gift United a fast break, so it was with some relief that Zhu celebrated.
It was all up for grabs when the teams came out level after the interval, but United soon regained the upper hand, thanks in large part to the encouragement from the stands. Heijn's ability to get forward was simply too much for Grilled, and hardly four minutes had passed when the wingback slipped right through to lob Wong for the second time.
With the Grilled backline wilting under the hosts' relentless barrage, Constantin Buda's free run inside in the 68th minute, thankfully wasted, was the last straw for Niculae Stanca
. In what was certainly not a vote of confidence for Rashid, Stanca called him off and put Madaini on.
Unfortunately, the Saudi's wealth of experience did him no good against the sharpness of United's play, and Grilled fans were cruelly reminded of why he was relegated to the bench when Fedorczyk simply blew by him with his acceleration. Ling came across to cover, but that left Dumitru Coca completely free to convert the fourth.
Still, the Birds could have rescued this one had they been more clinical - Abdul bin Jantan
and Woon Shun An
both had a clear sight of goal on successive attacks, but Barning was agile both times. Fedorczyk's rounding of Ling was quite unnecessary by the time it arrived, serving mostly to keep the seven-goal tradition of this fixture going.