Hattrick International Division Six leaders Racing Provisional smashed Grilled's experimental 3-4-3 in Spain today, which did at least indicate that Djan Bacelar
should have little reason to test it out in a real match - not even Neeraj Muthyala
's constant running was enough to rescue possession for the Birds, against a competent but hardly overwhelming Racing three.
It all began somewhat comically, as home player-coach Alfredo Marcos engaged in an animated conversation with the match officials at kick-off, about a prematurely-submitted team sheet. Gerardo Enseña would insist on sticking to the letter of the law, which had Marcos blowing all of his substitutions immediately, just to get the right personnel in.
They certainly fit in quickly, with 18 year-old trainee Abdelouadoud Hmidouch giving Dan Seng
something to think about with his first crack at goal, a sweet volley pleasingly executed from the corner of the penalty area. He certainly expected that to go in, from his exaggerated reaction at watching it swing wide.
Grilled would enjoy a brief run of dominance after about ten minutes, with Muthyala's industry mostly behind that. The playmaker was tireless in his chasing, drawing a foul and yellow from Jendrik Ihne. Prokop Mottl
should definitely have done better after José Luiz Velho
released him in the 18th minute, and Muthyala himself would lose out in a one-on-one against veteran Argentine goalie Gregorio Garatavidea, some time after that.
This was all clearly just papering over Grilled's disjointed passing, however, and it couldn't last. Indeed, after the unsustainable burst, Racing concluded the half with an explosive intensity that put the visitors' efforts to shame. Hmidouch would correct his earlier mistake to bag the opener from a good cross in the 37th minute, and Juan Saenz Soria made it 2-0 with a strong header off Jérôme Menguy's wayward lob.
The as-always combustible Remco van der Ban
would find himself booked for a tussle with Racing captain Jendrik Ihne before those strikes, and Bacelar appeared to mull over replacing him with Dante Tran
during the break. That ultimately didn't happen, though, and it was instead Krystian Rykowski
who came in for Dan Seng
Not that it helped, as Ihne smashed a third in coming up late from the centre, barely two minutes after the restart. Rykowski's lack of match fitness was on full display as he failed to challenge for a very-claimable corner six minutes later, and despite Rashid bin Ahmad
's compensating efforts, Dominique van Beilen would sweep it in after Juan Saenz Soria's initial header was blocked to the side.
For some reason, the Birds would again pick it up towards the middle of the half, with Muthyala again the catalyst. They would spurn a golden opportunity in the 55th, as Jérémy Tarin
caught the hosts napping with a cheeky free-kick wide to an unmarked Chu Xin Lee
, who sadly dithered. Faced with a similar situation, Jérôme Menguy elected to blast it instead in the 73rd minute, but put it some yards over.
Several minutes after that, the Birds would finally get the consolation goal that they had been building up to; Iman Eshrafi
showed excellent anticipation to shake his marker loose, right as Prokop Mottl
delivered. Unfortunately, they would go a man down right afterwards, with Remco van der Ban
getting in another pointless tangle that saw Miguel Martínez Sánchez kneed in a sensitive location.
That said, the lack of available substitutions meant that Grilled were not at a numerical disadvantage, but it didn't help them either, with Jérôme Menguy patiently working his way through for 5-1. Zhao Jing Wei
would fill in for Rashid for the last five minutes, but from the looks of things, the decorated 40 year-old surely won't be playing at this level for much longer.