Grilled openly intended to keep the score down as they chickened out of risking their best players just days before the Cup final, but somehow conspired to win three-nothing as they converted three out of their four shots on the day. Anfield paraded much the same team as that which beat Winning Eleven, but couldn't breach Grilled's fortress-like defence.
Grilled's game plan was simple - nine men flooding the centre of their side of the pitch. Defensive specialist Kek-Tjiang and Rottman provided the first line of cover, Bona and Falkbo the second, with the wing players all far closer to the middle than usual. Jie Siong was to be the only bridge between the rest of the team and a lonely Martinsson up front.
It is well-known that teams inviting opponents to come at them often get their stuffing knocked out, but in this case Grilled's rope-a-dope paid off handsomely. Anfield's ZhangCai Yongye wasn't in his best form, which certainly helped matters. Still, their three forwards were all easily S-League quality, and required some mobbing by the well-manned defence to neutralise.
Out of nowhere, Martinsson silenced the home crowd. Grilled's midfielders actually had a pretty decent game, through patient passing to each other. Kek-Tjiang broke the mould when he flicked on to see what Martinsson could do, and boy did he conjure something. Instead of taking a first touch, he ran onto the pass and thunderbolted a twenty-five metre drive past Canadian goalkeeper Dallas Duncan.
A goal down, Anfield were noticeably upset, having had the better of play. They switched to longer balls, trying to bypass Grilled's masses in central midfield. Grilled were forced deeper into their own half, but headed out the majority of the incoming aerial attacks.
It became a disaster for the home side, as their defence naturally went up to continue the bombardment. Rottman comfortably brought down an underhit lob, and released Borup on the right. Borup accelerated past Jan Tellén, took it all the way to the penalty-area, then rolled it out to the supporting Tuan-Mu. Tuan Mu, playing probably his last match as a first-choice defender, got a perfect parting gift as he sliced the ball in at the near post.
Now shellshocked, Anfield failed to threaten for the rest of the half, and started the second half slowly. Grilled resolutely turtled in their half, jealously guarding their advantage. They continued to be dangerous when they decided to strike, as Jie Siong picked his moment cleverly and lifted a good attempt over the bar.
Anfield soon were totally hemming Grilled in, and while they didn't have many clear-cut chances, they pelted Grilled's goal every other minute. Their best chance came when Suhaimi bin Rasdi wriggled past Bona and cut back for speedy centreback Tomas Irhall to hit. Irhall's volley was true and went through a blanket of players, but Sulaiman somehow got a handle onto it and palmed it just past the post.
Grilled were holding out for a 2-0 win, when another break put the result beyond doubt. Falkbo left his defensive duties to Kek-Tjiang as he followed Martinsson and company up, and was lucky enough to have the striker's blocked shot come to him. Duncan was by then on the ground to stop the initial strike, and helpless as Falkbo calmly put it over him from another angle.
ZhangCai Yongye might have eased the pain a little with a magical last-minute wondershot, which had Sulaiman rooted to the ground. It was not to be his day though as the ball shaved the left post and buried itself into the terraces, and the brave captain was left holding his head in despair. He had certainly deserved better.