The Shadow Strikes Back
Grilled were punished for their overconfidence as three goals in the first half-hour by all three of Shadow Chaser FC's forwards, Loh Yew-Tong, Huan Lan-Phuong and Ming Hsien-Feng, condemned the Birds to a 3-0 defeat.
Grilled had no answer to the rampaging Shadow strikeforce, as Shadow's influentual midfielder Mats-Erik Jansson returned from injury much earlier than expected. Their new signing Robert Larsson did not feature in this match, but Jansson and oldtimer Stefan Raskborg were more than a match for a complacent Grilled midfield trio. By the time they had realised it, Grilled were already two down after quickfire goals from Yew-Tong and Lan-Phuong, both after some quick feet converging on isolated central defender Lan Tuan-Mu
. Alcántara and Dewilde went inside to reinforce the center, but Grilled's confidence had taken a big hit and they were unable to hold on to the ball properly. Shadow's top striker Ming Hsien-Feng made it three to nothing on the half-hour mark as he utilised his strength against Dewilde, then put a lot of power behind his shot as well. Even the usually unflappable Alcántara got pressed into questionable decisions, and the captain nearly put himself out of the game after he overstretched to avoid Hsien-Feng's offensive tackle.
Grilled were predictably given a talking-to by Bakunin at the break, and came out striking at Shadow's weaker left flank. Hjortlind could have pulled one back through a piece of individual skill, but his time was shut out by David Eric's defence. Shadow did not press actively for more goals, but Loh Yew-Tong's outlandish bicycle kick shocked the entire arena into a few seconds of silence. Its artistic worth was undoubted, but it was still not worth a goal as it bounced off the foot of the upright despite Bao-Tam being utterly frozen. That proved to be the high point of an otherwise uneventful second half, and the Grilled team left the field with heads bowed.