Grilled International's coronation would have to wait, as second-placed Nice litle pingvin stopped their nine-match win streak before a full house at home. This extended the Barbados chasers' own run to five, and left them a single point behind International going into the final round, with all to play for.
Going by the bookmakers' odds, this qualified as a rank upset, although Roar Olaisen
would later insist that International hadn't seen Pingvin as beneath them at all. "It's the second-placed team away, in a match that we could have secured the title with a draw. How could we have gone easy here? That doesn't make sense."
Olaisen would concur that the possibility of completing their mission by avoiding defeat, could have affected the players negatively. "We never quite took the game to them either, and suffered for it."
As it was, International had to come from behind twice just to keep abreast of the hosts at half-time. Wang Hanxuan
was an unexpected omission from the starting lineup, only the second time he had been dropped this season; some of the more-involved set professed to be less surprised, though, from how he had been lagging in training sessions. Whatever the reason, International were left without a character to match Czech veteran Robert Laňka, who broke their backline in the 14th minute to feed Trond Vang an easy opener.
Normal service was resumed, so the visiting fans thought, as Fausto Perono
made the most of his free-kick duties to equalize with a classic curler just four minutes later, but this would be cancelled by Lionel Alleyne on Pingvin's very next raid. The remainder of the half belonged to International, but Jordanian goalkeeper Yasser Samawi was in his element, and warded off everything but Wang Chu Chi
's 31st minute cleanup of a Perono assist.
Still, especially with Vang having to make way for Junior Zamor following an accident that left him with a badly dislocated shoulder, the game seemed International's for the taking. Pingvin had other ideas, however, and pulled ahead for the third time in a very busy stretch near the sixtieth minute, that had Perono booked, Dongelmans miss a sitter, and Laňka profit. Laňka would leave no doubt about the identity of the hero of the day, making it 4-2 on the break as International completely lost their shape.
There would thus be no trophy presentation on Li Xin Chi
's debut, but captain Didi Reidenbach
advised his teammates not to mull over the defeat. "All we have to do is beat Recife Sport before our own fans next Friday, and it's the same. Let's keep our heads together, and complete the job properly."