A soccer game was packed into the first and last two minutes at Ampang Valley, where Dutchman Harold van der Zande emerged the undisputed hero of the day, saving countless shots on target and keeping Shen Kek-Tjiang
's final spot kick out to buy Ampang FC passage to the quarter-finals.
Grilled got off to a cracking start from the kick-off, as a sweet stroke by Stanton saw Martinsson an inch away from being offside. Martinsson dragged the ball over to his weaker left foot, catching van der Zande totally unawares as he let the ball in at the far post.
Ampang FC ensured that the lead lasted only seconds, though. Relatively new Lithuanian winger Valery Shandybin won out over Spirig on the left, then outmuscled even Bona to send a low cross whizzing through the box. Ex-Apostate striker Hua Shen-Tai was fastest on the draw and whipped in a shot that had Harlow grasping at thin air.
Shandybin nearly converted one by himself in the fourth minute, as longtime midfielder Johan Palmfeldt released him down the middle. Rottman couldn't make the tackle which may have been just as well, since Shandybin's strike went about three metres overhead.
Martinsson had a glut of half-chances, the closest of which came in the 25th minute when he went for the spectacular and saw his scissors kick shave the bar. Rottman felt he had just cause for complaint when he was boxed out by several players at the head of the penalty area, but the referee obviously felt that he had gone down on purpose. Yellow card.
Grilled certainly wanted the half-time advantage as they produced some sharp attacking movements, but other than a close attempt from Au-Yong Siu-Yue
, none of the thrusts made it past Ampang's bustling backline.
The second half was a comedy of errors from Grilled's attack, although nothing should be taken away from van der Zande's unbelievable acrobatics. Martinsson appeared to have toned down his risk threshold as he sent in shot after shot on target, but nothing creative enough to thwart the competent Dutch goalie. Spirig really should have opened the game up in the middle of the second half, but van der Zande got a long arm up.
Langeland was the next to come up against van der Zande, and had even got the ball past him - he didn't count on the goalie chasing back and scrambling it off the line. Spirig was left open after a corner, but mishit his header which looped high and perfect for the keeper to claim. By now chants of "Zande, Superman" were echoing around the Valley.
It appeared a last-gasp victory was in the hands of Grilled when Jan Langeland
took out the entire defence with a delicious little flip of the ball by the side of a defender, with Shen Kek-Tjiang
roaring up eagerly. van der Zande had been standing at the edge of his area though, and ran maniacally at the loose ball, reaching it ahead of Shen by the barest of inches.
More disbelief was to follow in the pressure cooker of extra time, as Siu-Yue won his side a penalty as he appeared to have been held back during a corner. Ampang's players protested and even the 52 year-old coach Moy Joi ran on the field, but van der Zande just about elevated himself to legendary status by standing his ground as Martinsson went down the middle.
The final seconds ticked away nervously, and Grilled resigned themselves to the penalty lottery. Regular penalty taker Johannes Andersen had a weak effort smothered by Harlow, and then Martinsson didn't give van der Zande a second chance by bending a technically perfect strike in off the right post.
Palmfeldt tricked Harlow into leaning the wrong way, then Siu-Yue did it by the book but saw the unflappable Dutchman dive and push it away. Harlow was plain lucky on Swiss winger François Felber's chest-high blast, but Rottman failed to capitalise as he produced a soft and badly placed shot.
Hua Shen-Tai seized the tempo with a cheeky little bounce-in right at the left post, then the experienced Asher Stanton
drove his down the middle even when it appeared that van der Zande was not going to move. He did launch himself to his right at the last second. Then Belgian midfielder Alain Beaujet got his kick correct, and it was down to Shen to keep Grilled in it.
Shen had far and away been the best player for Grilled on a day of titanic extertions, and the fatigue showed in his run-up. The stadium was unnaturally quiet, the ball left Shen's instep, flew for the left side of the goal, and would have made it had not van der Zande gotten one gloved hand across and pushed it onto the post and out. Shen fell.