Grilled's renaissance was short-lived, as they succumbed to another embarassing hiding, this time at the hands of Pudgy Penguins. The denizens of the Igloo Dome had evidently not forgotten the six-goal humiliation that had occurred the last time the teams met, and were only too eager to have their team deal out the same in return.
The Birds made a few changes from their winning side from last weekend, with Ling Fuquan
back in the lineup in place of Lee Lee Hao
. Zhao Jing Wei
, whose tactical stability had contributed so much then, was dropped in favour of Low Aik Jia
's consistent energy, and Frenchman Clément Meyer
was selected in central midfield after he impressed in training. While some fans may point to Zhao's omission as a factor in Grilled's bad fate, this was not at all evident in the beginning.
Penguins remained, if not jittery, then at least less than imposing from their 0-3 defeat to BCFC, and Grilled grabbed the opportunity to get at them. Zhao's comment on the Birds being at their best attacking appeared to be heeded by his teammates, and Chow Ying Lee
again relied on his acceleration to blow past Macedonian fullback Bledar Maliqi in the 13th minute. Tian Yonghang
knew what was coming, and cut in to the near post to flick in the opener.
The hosts were shaken enough to allow Gene Filippone
to come in with a bold diving header from Grilled's next play, but former national midfielder Mo Yeng Meng took control after that. Together with skipper Jian Xiaonan, the homegrown pair put the brakes on Grilled's development in midfield, with Meyer finding it particularly hard to operate against Mo's know-how.
Still, Grilled had the lead, but Penguins were storing up their chances. They unleashed it all starting in the 33rd minute, when it was all Ling Fuquan
could do to deflect Andrew Haul's thunderous left-footed drive. Tunç Aykal played the short corner quickly as the linesman acquiesced, and Maliqi would repay his earlier failings with a solid headed goal off Kenyan international Ollie Maynard's instant cross.
It then all came crashing down for the Birds, as the home team smashed two more by them in the next two minutes, Giorgio Polani benefitting from some haphazard defending from the centrebacks, before Haul himself scored as Mo fanned out to the right wing to feed the ball in. Grilled's inability to muster a coherent defensive plan was painfully exposed yet again, with Low Aik Jia
being completely out of position for Haul's goal.
The barrage was not over yet, and Greek wingback Paschalis Ptolemeos made it 4-1 as Wong Ping Shun
again proved no match for Maynard's pure pace in a straight footrace. Tian Yonghang
made as if to remonstrate with his colleagues, but then thought better of it.
Bacelar made no changes during half-time despite the fans' expectations, though it was hard to see what their chosen champion Zhao Jing Wei
could have done. What insecurities the Penguins had were well and shrugged off by now, and they began assembling the surgical assaults that had downed so many fine sides. George Negoiţă was denied through a full-on scramble by Filippone, but it became 5-1 anyway as Ptolemeos nodded a looping header in from the ensuing corner, despite Low's station at the post.
The Penguins fans were really getting into it now, but Grilled could have at least pulled another back, as they went at it from the restart. A rare misjudgment by Tang Cheng Min allowed Zhu Changchun
to continue his rampage in from the right, but Iraqi national goalie Darawan Balikân was determined not to let another past him for the day, and clawed Zhu's strike aside with his fingertips.
Wong Tian Han
then compensated for a bad day all around with some quick hands to push Aykal's snap 69th minute effort onto the bar, but last season's S-League top scorer would not leave without adding to his record. Mo Yeng Meng, who had been growing in stature as the game progressed, drifted effortlessly though the Grilled ranks to feed Aykal a magical lobbed pass, and there was nothing Wong could have done against a finish of such quality.
Mo would then answer the supporters' call for a seventh, with another Messi-esque dribble through, and all Djan Bacelar
could do at this point was to eat away the final seconds with a belated double substitution.