One couldn't accuse Las Cigüeñas of being stingy with opportunities either, as they fielded a side designed to attack as much as they could - Italian veteran Danilo Cola, who struck twice in that storied Copa Zafiro final, would be ably assisted by homegrown pair Juan Francisco Valle Jiménez and Cesc Moseguí up top. Poor trainee goalie Antonio Castellsir was left to deal with things as best as he could, with Las Cigüeñas fixated on taking it to Grilled.
Goals had to be an inevitability in such a matchup, but despite everybody throwing caution to the winds, the match somehow remained scoreless for the first half-hour. The goalkeepers had much to do about that, with Dob quickly realising what he had signed up for, and adjusting by playing almost in a sweeper position. Castellsir's involvement was more concrete to begin with, as he warded off several stiff strikes from Grilled shooters.
This improbable state of equilibrium couldn't last indefinitely, and the formations grew yet more disordered, with Rashid bin Ahmad
somehow forcing Castellsir into a save with his feet in the 34th minute. Las Cigüeñas were soon back at Grilled's throats, with Castellsir understandably eager to get the ball as far from him as possible, and Cola would deftly send Jiménez clear as Jérémy Tarin
watched, and Dob's clean sheet hopes went up in smoke.
The Birds would bounce back hard, and a full-on drive from kick-off saw Chan Ze Han
settle for a free-kick at the left edge of the penalty area. A neat slice to the other side by Moey Xin Seng
saw Chu Xin Lee
in position to finish, and two minutes later, Grilled were ahead thanks to Prokop Mottl
's skinning of wantaway rightback Juan Luis Sancho.
The hosts were rocking now, and had Chu Xin Lee
's valiant attempt crept in a minute later, they might have found it hard to recover. Instead, they made good ground thanks to the debuting Jorge Olmedo Halcón on the left, who proceeded to call Dob's decision-making into question with a flat cross to Edmund Rudat. Dob was always going to be second best for that, even accounting for his reach, and Rudat unsurprisingly managed an equaliser.
was ensure that Grilled ended the half ahead, with a cultured curler after some great approach work from Moey Xin Seng
, but Las Cigüeñas could probably claim a moral victory by sticking so closely. Further, they seemed to have settled against Grilled's system, and Danilo Cola would sound a timely warning, with his cheeky little prod to the corner of Dob's goal, in time added on.
They certainly continued to grow into the game in the second half, with Rashid and Tarin contrariwise deteriorating in effectiveness - and from what was never a very high bar to begin with. Cola knew exactly how to work his markers, and although Rashid bin Ahmad
was mostly equal to his tricks before this, the gap in stamina was becoming increasingly unbridgeable.
This was reflected, to a lesser extent, elsewhere on the pitch too, with young trainee Miguel Madrón effectively doing the work of two men down the central axis. Grilled had their runners too, mostly Chu and Moey at this point, but the rest were somewhat disappointing. José Luiz Velho
for one looked lost on the right, and was shown up by the far more assured Halcón.
Fifty-nine minutes in, Las Cigüeñas were again level. The Birds were getting dragged this way and that by the hosts' calculated off-ball patterns, and Rashid would realise too late that Cesc Moseguí was luring him inside, leaving Janus Hviid with only Parvathaneni between him and goal. A swing of the hips by the 32 year-old Dane fooled Parvathaneni completely, and Tarin couldn't get across before he had angled a beautiful bender past Dob.
's big day was getting from bad to worse, and he was perhaps not in the best of mental states, when he lined up his wall against Moseguí himself in the 73rd minute. The forward took his time thinking about the shot, and duly delivered a magnificent knuckleball that whistled past Moey's brave attempt at blocking with his face, and found itself dipping into the far top corner.
Grilled would take over as Las Cigüeñas were happy to play defence in depth for once, and they wound up to be decent enough at it, to shut an annoyed Birds attack out. The hardworking Miguel Madrón would suffer cramps and have to be replaced with about ten minutes remaining, but first-teamer Harm Hensen was a more than adequate replacement.