|Season 69||W||2 - 1||League|
|Season 57||W||4 - 1||Qualification|
|Season 37||W||1 - 0||Qualification|
Rafał Leads Rally
Kim Tae Hee FC were fast to avenge last week's defeat at The Cooking Pot, and in doing so, recorded their first victory over Grilled Birds at their fourth attempt. To this, much had to be attributed to their Polish striker Rafał Chuchro, whose effectiveness was such that it was difficult to comprehend why he had been dropped previously.
Under-fire KTH head coach Narcis Cercel, staring at five straight defeats, had implored his squad for a response, which appeared to have had the intended effect. That accounted for, the Birds still managed the first true chance of the match, when Bilal Mohammad Harun
saw what Kalki Parvathaneni
was trying to do on the left in the sixth minute. Bilal managed to make a yard of space with former national U-20 defender Raju Sharma breathing down his neck, but he dragged his strike barely wide.
It was the hosts who had been the more proactive even before that, and with a bona-fide target man available, they expanded the game as they had been unable to do at The Pot. Veteran winger Aiyub Mohd Khawarizmi, who had claimed his left wing spot back from Bartolomé Nil, found himself in an incredible position after Alejandro Llosa's cross had bobbled over to him. He waited too long for it to fall back down to a comfortable height, however, and Gilbert Webb
interfered enough to defuse the threat.
There was no question about who were the favourites for this one, as Kim Tae Hee FC's willingness to scrap for every ball simply wore down Grilled's relatively low-energy midfield, and they should really have gone ahead when Cory Trang split Grilled's defence in the 32nd minute - but for Massoud Dob
's fearless block on Kok Lee Kwang inside the six-yard box. Neeraj Muthyala
then chopped Chuchro down with his goalie's screams ringing in his ears, for which he received a yellow card without hesitation from Moshe Pessach.
That free-kick went nowhere, however, and then the Birds went in front despite their very unpromising circumstances. Whatever else they lacked, they had some speed to spare on the left, and a bad read of a long clearance by Ivan Zhekov allowed Florus Romijn
behind him. This single slip proved fatal, as Kalki teased Paul Târlă aside sufficiently for Romijn to smash it high and in at the near post.
Pier Federico Lissandrin shaved Dob's crossbar two minutes later, but the Italian also looked to have landed awkwardly on his right leg on that jump, which didn't bode well for Kim Tae Hee FC. The interval came and went, and the hosts' confidence would grow once more as the Birds failed to turn their goal into further inspiration.
The match was definitely being lost in midfield for Grilled, for all of Moey Xin Seng
's valiant efforts, and they were having real trouble keeping Kim Tae Hee FC from switching play out wide at will. Aiyub was left all alone in the 55th minute, and he would take Moey on purposefully, before slipping a diagonal pass across the box. Rafał Chuchro had waited too long, and he pegged this one firmly into the net.
The equaliser found, the home team knew that a win was well within reach, and Grilled were under heavy siege. Hovaness Noubaryan
's attempts to organize a response went largely unheeded, and it opened up for Kok Lee Kwang to have a go. His sweet lob would leave Dob stranded, and even worse for the Birds, they would lose Kalki Parvathaneni
as well, after the forward strained his hamstring getting his leg up to try and deflect Kok's attempt.
's arrival went without much notice in a desperate Grilled rearguard action, as the home crowd really got into it; there was no respite as Kim Tae Hee FC buzzed about with belief, and Bilal Mohammad Harun
in particular seemed lost as the game passed him by. Aiyub Mohd Khawarizmi's bending strike in the 66th was met by a super save from Dob, but it was for naught as Chuchro immediately scooped it over for Pier Federico Lissandrin to head in, point blank.
Ivan Zhekov's booking for holding Romijn - Grilled's sole bright spot - back finally broke the spell, and Noubaryan hastened to deploy his by now not-so-secret weapon: Chan Ze Han
. There would be no heroic push by the youngster today, however, and the Birds were lucky just not to concede further.