Flunked By G.E.D.E.S
Manso Stands Firm
Argentine hosts University of G.E.D.E.S had their preparations for their upcoming campaign in Division Six come off well today, as they held off the visiting Birds against the odds. This could be attributed both to a dash of luck, but more to centreback Marcelo Gabriel Manso, whose fearless defending provided the edge that University needed, when it mattered most.
Manso's contribution was moreover immediate, though it did depend on a thick slice of the abovementioned good fortune; Chan Ze Han
, whose star has dimmed ever so slightly in the past weeks, offered up another tantalizing glimpse of his potential in the second minute. Sidestepping the overeager Pedro Walter Rodríguez, he brought the ball up to the edge of the penalty area, before releasing a lovely strike that came back off the crossbar.
Kostas Olianas instinctively tipped the rebound to Manso, who was cool as ice considering the circumstance; it was his turn to dodge the oncoming Moey Xin Seng
, before knocking it down the park for Sebastián Mingrone to chase. The new trainee did well enough to play veteran winger Fabio Pesoa in, and Pesoa slipped it in beneath Dan Seng
As the match drew on, it became hard to argue that Grilled deserved to be behind. They were bossing it clearly in the attacking half, with Yuta Nakakita
and Neeraj Muthyala
particularly gelling as a unit. In addition, Prokop Mottl
made plenty of headway down University's empty right flank. For all that, however, the end product just wouldn't come.
Instead, it would be the hosts who would double their lead, well against the flow of the game. A rare slip from Yuta allowed Elías Salas to make his move, and despite the Number Thirteen's best efforts at recovering, University pulled off a slick combination of passes, going through the inspired Mingrone. Fittingly, it ended up with Salas again, and this time, he buried it without a second thought.
Somehow, the Birds displayed no sign of being discouraged, but despite a succession of incisive attacks - most notably by Kalki Parvathaneni
- no goal came. Manso certainly had a huge say in that, with several of his saving tackles riding the fringes of legality.
With Remco van der Ban
on for José Luiz Velho
in the second half, Grilled carried on as they had for most of the past hour. The spectators must have expected them to finally score, as they worked their first extended possession into a free shot for the wandering Gene Filippone
, right in front of goal. This was not exactly a position that the Swiss was accustomed to be in, sadly, and he rolled it weakly at Olianas.
Disaster then struck for Grilled in much the same way as it had in the first half. After a chaotic sequence in front of goal that had Moey Xin Seng
fire point-blank into the well-tested Olianas, University saw the clearance fall kindly for a swiftly-advancing Sebastián Gabriel Mendieta. They then had Mingrone miss the connection from the cross, but Waldo Franceschetti managed to hoof it in, coming up from behind.
The Birds were thus in the unenviable position of being three behind despite arguably being superior in just about every department, and it could have easily gotten even worse. Ironically, on this occasion, University definitely deserved the goal, as they routed a despondent Grilled defence with spirited running. Dan Seng
didn't agree, however, and he saved Manso's world-class shot magnificently.
The game quickly settled as University gave every indication that they were more than satisfied with the scoreline. On the Birds' side, Moey Xin Seng
never lost hope, but when verbal encouragements made little headway, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He made it a point to lean into Elias Gratsch in the 67th minute, and Reinhard Hummel inexplicably awarded the penalty, which Jérémy Tarin
converted like a real pro.
Some of University's younger and less-hardened players would find themselves spent about now, with Gratsch in particular having put too much of himself into the contest, too early. Rashid bin Ahmad
's inclusion could be seen as an attacking substitution, in that it freed Tarin to venture more, and whether or not it had the intended effect, the Birds would shortly after pull another one back through Neeraj Muthyala
University tightened it up after that, and could in fact have cemented the win in the 80th, with Osvaldo Inri Rodríguez Drago floating his strike narrowly high, after being confronted with an open goal on Pesoa's tricky dribble. Chan Ze Han
then bid for an equaliser with a Hail Mary attempt deep in injury time, but no miracle was observed.