Hou Plots Downfall
An unholy confluence of factors precipitated a crushing defeat for Grilled at Home Of De Young Guns, where ArSenal U21 preserved their 100% record against the Birds, with a third win in as many seasons. Further, the visitors had no excuses for the debacle, as the scoreline in no way flattered the industrious hosts whatsoever.
It was perhaps not all
down to ArSenal U21's own considerable pizzazz, though, as the Birds weren't shy in making it easier for them as well. As an example, no-one thought to close Peruvian Melanio Uon-Aso down as he wound in on goal circuitously in a second-minute attack, and despite Valentin Batâr
guarding the near post as goalkeeping theory dictated, the Chilean somehow managed to loop it high about him and into the net, with nary an inch to spare.
This wonderstrike set the tone for the remainder of the contest, which it technically remained, although that description bore little resemblance to what was happening out there. There are always times when a team is just not into it for whatever reason, and today's Grilled definitely fitted the bill.
Even the normally-unflappable captain Moey Xin Seng
was getting bamboozled in midfield, and he inadvertently put teammate Chu Xin Lee
under heavy pressure, with a light backpass when he had nowhere to turn. Then again, a more-conservative player might have simply helped it out to touch, but Chu instead insisted on rescuing it despite Piersandro Patarnello breathing down his neck... and only all the way to a delighted Isaac Altefähre.
That made it six goals in six meetings for the big German forward, his tenth in the league so far this season, and his twentieth overall. The Birds continued freefalling with the fullhearted encouragement of the ArSenal fans, who loudly reminded the visitors of their record at their fortress. Two more goals followed before the 20th minute, as Andrey Bozhkov and Charles Lao finished off swashbuckling moves through the middle in short order.
The Birds would finally gather enough of themselves together to mount a belated raid down the left, as Florus Romijn
made a bid to pull his shellshocked comrades out of their collective funk. Streaming down the touchline after shaking off a determined Lao, Romijn made haste to release an excellent cross - but Islom Davlatov
couldn't get his header in, and Yuki Irie
, cleverly coming up around the back, was a step slow too.
Slow was something Jonne Matero definitely wasn't, as the Finn flew first past Cyril Künzler
, and then Neeraj Muthyala
, out of nowhere in the 25th minute. Yuta Nakakita
was hopelessly ensnared in a two-on-one down his side after that, and Matero did the basic drawing-out of the defender, before slinging it over to Étienne Höckelsberger for five-nil.
A defeat of historic proportions was certainly on the cards, with Grilled five down well before the half-hour mark; the match commentators were discussing the Birds' previous worst result - nil-eight against United Warrior Team - as if it were not merely possible but probable, and from what had happened, they were completely justified in their speculations.
It would take something big to save Grilled's bacon - their faces, and not the points, which were long gone, and it would take an eighteen year-old to salvage their tattered reputations somewhat. He played cunningly for the free-kick against Kazım Çavsar in the absence of support, and Cyril Künzler
then swung a low one around the wall, and just beyond Alfredo Corrales.
There remained a full hour to go, though, and there was no sign that this was anything but a consolation strike. The hosts were still beating on Grilled like a red-headed stepchild, but Grilled were in turn at least defending themselves - which was, sad to say, already a massive improvement from before.
They made it to half-time without further embarassing themselves, and Djan Bacelar
evidently figured that a rescue act was out of the question. The team came out with an obvious brief to limit the damage, and it was ten behind the ball with only an isolated Kalki Parvathaneni
left by himself to stage breakaways.
ArSenal U21 carried on as they had, having little reason not to, but they found that their free-wheeling approach was not quite as effective as it had been. The opportunities continued presenting themselves, as when Höckelsberger hit a running volley marginally wide in the 55th; he would have to depart two minutes later, however, the victim of his own shoulder charge against an uncompromising Yuta Nakakita
The game continued with utility man Cheung Wee Choon on for Höckelsberger, and he proved to have lost little of his attacking instinct, poking Altefähre through before being hauled down by Neeraj Muthyala
. Referee Daniel Mohn played the advantage for that one, but he couldn't ignore Muthyala then taking Delroy Solomon down despite being warned mere seconds before, and pulled out the yellow card.
Maurice Tang entered for the stricked Solomon, and Altefähre continued banging on the door, but Valentin Batâr
did his duty with a second great save in quick succession off the German hitman's boots. Bacelar could have had little to complain about how the Birds were doing, especially if set against the disastrous first half, but he nevertheless sent Hoàng Trung Quá
for Yuki Irie
, in a bid to freshen the defence up.
It certainly didn't hurt, probably partly as ArSenal's non-stop ebullience was beginning to extract a toll. Jonne Matero had to scramble to bring Künzler down, in a reversal from the usual, and he was booked in the 77th after a few such scraps. Alfredo Corrales then had to save off his fingertips against Yuta Nakakita
, but there would be no change to the scoreline, as the match ended with a couple of relaxed substitutions from the beaten Birds.