No More Slip-ups
Grilled's recent misadventures would inevitably affect attendance, with the cavernous The Cooking Pot barely a quarter filled, but those who made it must have heaved a sigh of relief at how they put Black Banana FC in their place. The erstwhile league frontrunners were never in it, as their expansive 3-4-3 simply didn't work out, and the Birds duly feasted like the famished beasts they were.
Mindful that the axe was hanging over everyone's head, it was an intensely focused Grilled selection that trooped out of the tunnel. Interestingly, it appears that Yuta Nakakita
has become the preferred centreback, with the Birds sticking to an offensively-biased midfield centered on Chu Xin Lee
. Up top, Islom Davlatov
would act as the focal point, with Kalki Parvathaneni
restored as designated runner.
Well, exactly opposite to what happened against Peiki Club Fc and jessica FC, it was the turn of Grilled to be favoured by lady luck. Of course, she had to act through someone, and in this case, it was Polish winger Cyril Künzler
. Thinking quickly after he shifted the ball against Apoena Conde's feet and onto his blind side, Künzler penetrated deeply into the Banana box, and then made good use of Parvathaneni's support coming up the middle for 1-0.
Künzler was nigh-invincible for a period here, as none of the Banana players were quite a match for his suite of abilities. Blazing fast on the straight, and with agility to spare, the winger got his crosses off almost at will. And, with so many of them raining down, the Birds just had to convert one of them eventually. Indeed, with fifteen minutes gone, Moey Xin Seng
saw his angled header go in off Davlatov's back, but he wasn't about to give his claim up.
Banana's nightmare went on, and Künzler then won - and delivered a corner that Neeraj Muthyala
nodded past befuddled Mexican keeper José Fernández in the 29th. Fernández would pull off a great stop from Davlatov after that, but couldn't prevent Kalki Parvathaneni
from rounding him in the 38th, as Florus Romijn
brought him into play. Star attraction Künzler would then make it five-nil by half-time, smashing a penalty kick into the roof of the net.
It was difficult to read Alfredo Patania's thoughts as he sat in the visiting dugout, whereas Grilled's unbridled euphoria was evident for all to see. Patania rationally made stopping Künzler his top priority in the half-time reshuffle, and with a system of doubling up on the threat now in place, Banana finally had a platform to build from.
The visitors would begin to produce with that, and they sketched out perhaps their best opportunity of the match in the 51st minute, eschewing the wings for Richárd Hábián's direct approach up the centre. Skipping by Neeraj Muthyala
, the Romanian aimed for Silas Blocker with an exquisite outside-foot pass... only for the latter to be flattened by Yuta Nakakita
's anxious challange. German referee Dirk Wiesel considered what had happened for a short moment, before waving play on.
Banana were hardly happy with that decision, but they had other urgent problems to handle. Such as Hoàng Trung Quá
, who has kept his prospenity to shoot from distance, after it had served him so well last term. His ambitious 54th minute try flew comfortably outside Fernández's reach, but the potential goal of the season contender would ultimately smack into the post.
They wouldn't escape forever, and despite Conde doing his level best to distract with his runs down the left, the Birds remained far more likely to add to their haul. This happened in the 66th minute, with Moey Xin Seng
luring want-away French defender Yann Baduel aside with his deceptive footwork, before slipping Islom Davlatov
in. Fernández went legs-first for the ball, but wound up nutmegged by Davlatov's toepoke.
Hoàng would not depart unsated either, as he hammered a seventh in within the next minute, with Cyril Künzler
running interference. The fans were really getting into the swing by then, and the Birds left them more upbeat than they had been for a long, long time.