Zhu Takes Leave
Grilled Birds finally got an upturn in their fortunes, as they struck six past Taiwanese Division Three visitors Dynamo Dalin, but this came at the cost of Zhu Changchun
flirting with an extended layoff. The long-serving Number Four refused to pull out of his attempt to keep the ball in play in the eleventh minute, and suffered the consequences.
The game had all the makings of a leisurely friendly, with Dalin captain He Minwei getting on famously with opposite number Tian Yonghang
, as the two marched out of the tunnel. Tian would not be quite as nice after the gloves came off, though, and when Ling Fuquan
invited him to do something with a short cross in the seventh minute, he didn't hesitate to swing a magnificent volley over Dalin's Gu Haigui in goal.
Zhu's accident followed shortly after that, and replays showed that he was lucky in that Finnish stopper Teemu Tani drew back once he realised what was happening, or otherwise he would probably not be able to walk away from that. Gene Filippone
entered, and Chow Ying Lee
and Clément Meyer
flubbed a couple of fair openings, before the former extended the Birds' lead five minutes before the break.
The fans were probably justified in staying away given the lethargy on display, and while the much-watched Ding Zhongqiang proved very useful on the right wing, with his height giving Filippone problems, Dalin did not manage to use him all that often. Newcomer Lin Chengyuan could hardly cope at leftback, but then again, it was a respectable effort for a seventeen year-old.
With Dalin having resolved to stay back, the second half became an even more one-sided demonstration from Grilled. Low Aik Jia
burst through with the most direct of dribbles in the 58th minute, pulling impressively away from Cândido Nogueira in the process. The finish was less assured with Danish veteran Frode Guldberg heading Low off, but still adequate.
It was not Guldberg's best day as he allowed Meyer past him for a free potshot five minutes later, but fortunately for him, the Frenchman was off-colour too. This did not apply to Tian, as the Singapore national forward retained an admirable sharpness to guide Lee Lee Hao
's interesting pass out of the blue into the net for 4-0.
There would be two more before the end, with Meyer slotting home following Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
's deft turn in the 82nd minute, and Tian completing his hat-trick with a typical understated flourish in the 84th. Lee Lee Hao
was hauled up for his stiff tackle on Lin Zibin in between, but the good-natured Dalin winger took the tumble in his stride.