First & Last Chan
The Birds advanced to the semifinals of the Mönninghof Cup on the back of penalties, against Danish side Olympia reUnited. The Division Four reUnited had turned the match into something of a battle of attrition, after wiping Grilled's early two-goal lead out, and the game would gradually morph into something of a personal contest between rising forward stars Chan Ze Han
and Ove Rosenberg.
Olympia's head coach Dumitru-Ion Gheţu hadn't been idle, as he retooled from the 3-5-2 that had lost 1-4 to FK Brno-Černovice, into a more top-heavy 3-4-3. 19 year-old Dutch attacker Huibert Zwaanswijk would overload the left flank, as winger Kepa Lexarralde stayed out. Bernie Egan
again started in defence for the Birds, while Kalki Parvathaneni
was all primed to go, being suspended for Wednesday's cup game.
It was a collision of styles that had goals written all over it, and there would be some dire defending by Gilbert Webb
against opposition Number Nine Mads Risager, in the initial going. The threat was gradually lifted by Grilled's midfielders, and Webb would shine in the 18th minute, with a snap long ball with Chan Ze Han
stepping up. The first take on the chest wasn't the best, but Chan recovered with grace, and caught the ball beautifully on the half-volley to find the top corner of the net.
Grilled were only just getting into their rhythm, and Egan would bustle through to double their lead, six minutes on. Never the type to sit back and relax, the Irishman would slowly work his way up the pitch in an extended sequence, passing it sensibly whenever pressured. This lulled the Olympia players into backing off at the head of their own penalty area, whereupon Egan cracked a grounder off. Joram Kimutai would have had it covered, had it not taken that slightest of deflections off a defender's foot.
The Danes would then show what they were made of, and what seemed like a stroll for the Birds went back to square one over the next five minutes. First, Grilled entirely underestimated the abilities of Olympia skipper Jean Lindegaard, as he thundered down the sidelines from his rightback position, almost to the corner flag. There would then be a dazzling exchange of passes that completely confused the Grilled backline, and Rosenberg was left by himself to draw Massoud Dob
out to be chipped.
They would follow it up with another blitz, this time finished off via Jean Lindegaard, and Grilled would finally take the hint. Neeraj Muthyala
and Chu Xin Lee
would stay a lot deeper as the Birds abandoned their high line, which killed the openness tremendously. Islom Davlatov
would get forward more in compensation, but often ran into dead ends, and he would be awarded a yellow card in the 52nd minute for lashing out.
Jean Lindegaard nearly put Olympia into the lead from the fallout, but Dob stood firm. Grilled surely should have put it to bed after that, with Cyril Künzler
's free-kick coming close in the 59th, but especially given that golden five-minute stretch starting from around the 76th minute; it began with Florus Romijn
throwing opponents off with a crazy display of control at pace, only for him to knock it straight to Kimutai with a heavy final touch.
Chan Ze Han
then made a rare poor decision, as he skied it from a wide position, despite having several teammates line up for a cross inside. Grilled came back with a rare free-kick inside the box, after Kimutai was judged to have handled a backpass, but the initial take was absolutely smothered. It then fell to an eager Davlatov, who tried to be too clever with the outside of his boot.
José Luiz Velho
and Prokop Mottl
would come on for a the thirty minutes of extra time, which saw Grilled pull lucky escapes in succession, thanks to Lindegaard's 96th minute penalty miss, and Risager striking the goalpost. Vikram Mudaliar
joined Davlatov in the book as the Birds flagged, but they could actually have won it at the last, had Mudaliar been more decisive in the aftermath of a free-kick.
This meant penalties, and after both Künzler and Lindegaard made no mistake, Olympia seized the advantage after Kimutai guessed correctly against Neeraj Muthyala
. They were one strike from getting through after Prokop Mottl
e was denied by the crossbar, but Massoud Dob
then managed two heroic saves in a row, the second against an overly-casual Mads Risager.
The momentum was firmly with the Birds now, and although Kimutai parried against José Luiz Velho
, Huibert Zwaanswijk chipped his dreadfully wide. Olympia were finally the ones back under real pressure, when Chan Ze Han
shuffled it home calmly, and Ove Rosenberg cracked.