|Season 54||L||5 - 2||League|
|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)|
They're The Man
Grilled made the christening of the expanded The Cooking Pot memorable - but not in the way they expected, by going down to their worst competitive defeat of all time, 1-8 against -= Manchester United =-. The visiting Valentin Bugaev also wrested sole possession of the Golden Boot in this unparalleled travesty, which left the home fans speechless at its conclusion.
That said, a loss to United was not out of the question, given that they have been the Birds' ultimate bogey side in the past two seasons, having won all previous three league matchups; sporting a devil-may-care style that is perhaps the closest to Grilled's, United have had their measure each time they met, and with the S-League on the line, United were just that bit more fired-up.
This was not to say that Grilled were unmotivated, but close observers had detected a rather perceptible dip in their energy levels in the preceding weeks, which perhaps had something to do with the sudden dip in the odds against them as kick-off neared. Despite being less than effective in his last try at left wing, Ling Fuquan
was provided another opportunity there, while Rashid bin Ahmad
made it back to the starting lineup as a dedicated centreback.
Which was exactly the wrong approach against this United team, on hindsight. Once again, Belgian head coach Steven Van Zele doubled down on pulling the Birds wide, and they came through after just four minutes. Markus Närhi darted past Woon Shun An
with some extreme agility, and his cross bent steeply to bounce to Constantin Buda, coming on from the other flank. Buda fired true, and beat Wong Tian Han
at his near post.
It was an embarassing start, but nothing the Birds were not used to. However, the renovation works seemed to have taken away their familiarity with the ground altogether, and Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
and Tian Yonghang
looked totally lost when they received the ball. Adriano Hausladen, on the other hand, moved as if he had always been here, and he blasted a second home following Ling's brainfart in the 35th. Volkhardt Steinboeck then chipped Wong from the kickoff, as large section of the 74000-strong crowd became increasingly sullen.
Grilled's sole bright spark came when Woon Shun An
broke through to reduce, but then the moment that Tian's fans had been dreading arrived. Valentin Bugaev, who had undeniably been the more active of the two in the first half, pulled ahead in the top scorer race as Närhi again shook clear of Woon to deliver. Nobody could say that he didn't deserve that one, though.
The only consolation was that the Birds had nothing riding on the outcome, and they sure played like they didn't, all the pre-game statements about giving a performance notwithstanding. United could not have been any more different, and they began the second half like a hound that smelt blood.
And blood there was, as they tore down the right flank without mercy, which should give Niculae Stanca
strong doubts about putting Ling on the wing. While better than average at advancing, Ling's defensive instincts have often been called into question by scouts, and being passed by Buda twice in three minutes will do little to correct this. Gastón Ovelar and Zlatomyr Churilov scored from those, as United went 6-1 up.
United then tied the record for most goals against Grilled, when Dumitru Coca knocked a seventh in after Gene Filippone
got turned. The supporters were certainly disgruntled by now, but pockets of loyalists still managed to begin singing about the cup, which however smelt faintly of escaping from reality in the circumstances.
It was however not quite Grilled's fault either, as the players did muster a professional if uninspired shift. Indeed, they hit a number of good strikes, but those that didn't slip by were saved by Sylvain Barning, while on another day some might have gone in. The Birds were not wanting for possession either, and even skipper Tian Yonghang
was for once bewildered at the team's collective impotence.
Zhao Jing Wei
was one of the few Grilled players who carried on with his normal game, but even then could only snap at Barning's ankles in an abortive attempt to save more face, earning himself a caution. Finally, the moment that the supporters had been dreading arrived - Friedger Hengen picked the ball up just in front of the penalty area, and drifted past Rashid bin Ahmad
before scuttling it past Wong, to make it the first time Grilled had conceded eight.
Even the most die-hard could not help but go silent at that as United cemented their title perfectly, but they did manage to recover some defiance by the time Constantin Buda tripped Ling in the 83rd minute. Qassem Madaini
took his time jogging on after he was named as a replacement for Filippone, and looking at the mess that the Grilled defence was, he could have been relived that he will one be the one to fix it.