Taught By Us
Gunnarsson Gets Good
It was nothing out of the ordinary as a Playboys Us XI stuffed chock-full of internationals defeated Grilled Birds 5-1, what more given the less-than-ideal condition of the latter. The surprise was that Grilled actually attempted more shots than the Swedish giants, though as the result suggested, their conversion rate wasn't very impressive.
With Mudaliar sustaining a back injury, Moey Xin Seng
would return to the strikeforce, with the rest of the team the same as had started against Kim Tae Hee FC. Playboys Us, despite their upcoming epic winner-take-all battle against FBKkrossen for the Allsvenskan title, weren't stinting with their lineup either. It quickly became clear that width wasn't something that either side were eager to pursue, as a slow, cramped game emerged.
Moey and Chan were clearly puffed up against opponents of such stature, and former Danish international centreback Louis Hjortnæs was soon forced to turn to his wingbacks for additional support. Still, Grilled were never openly threatening, at least until the 19th minute when Chan Ze Han
deliberately clipped the ball forward against Hjortnæs. It came off the defender's hand almost certainly unwittingly, but Chan appealed - and the referee agreed.
lined it up, and Liechtenstein custodian Dejan Höck gambled and lost, diving a split-second too early to his left. If Grilled were hoping to sit on their lead, however, it wasn't happening. Kent-Jesus Gunnarsson, owner of 41 Swedish caps and still going strong, completely threw Bilal Mohammad Harun
off with his back facing the goal. Bilal would have to watch Gunnarsson nod it in, while hopelessly trapped behind.
The Birds definitely gave a good account of themselves in this half, that lapse excepted. The only other two strikes on target would belong to them, as Neeraj Muthyala
ran the midfield with aplomb. He would supply a long pass that led to a free-kick awarded against Lyuben Kantardzhiev in the 32nd minute, for pulling Moey back; Künzler smashed that into the wall. Muthyala would go it himself six minutes the break, and his delicious lob would elude Höck, but not the woodwork.
It would all change quite tremendously after the break, which easily led to suspicions as to whether Playboys Us was merely taking it easy before that. As Grilled's men ran out of breath, their opponents only gained in strength, and they demonstrated the devastatingly straightforward yet effective football that had driven them to the pinnacle of the Swedish leagues. There was next to all pretense in their build-up, but there was just nothing that the Birds' defence could do in the 57th minute, as Gunnarsson lashed home his second goal.
A similarly direct dash up the left by Rubén Valdivia del Corral allowed Irish star Luke Leary to make it 3-1 immediately after, and Bernie Egan
could not help but smile wanly on the ground, having tried and failed to keep Leary out. Grilled did receive something of a second wind after this, though, with Islom Davlatov
taking over supplying the impetus.
It was perhaps slightly unlucky that the Birds didn't pull one back, what with Florus Romijn
's cross to Künzler, Bilal's unreasonably-optimistic-yet-very-close strike from well over thirty metres, and Chan Ze Han
's improvisation under heavy watch, all not bearing fruit. That last effort in the 82nd minute in particular should have beaten Dejan Höck by all rights, but the goalie's instincts were simply outstanding.
Playboys Us were just lurking about, and after Romijn lost control just as he was making it through on the left, they would return the favour with blistering speed. Englishman Scott Humphries hadn't exerted himself overly, and his clever pacing would allow him to break clear when it mattered. With options to his left and right, Humphries fired instead, which caught Massoud Dob
There would be one more goal as Noubaryan, sensing a lost cause, replaced Muthyala with Chu Xin Lee
, who came on just in time to watch as Leary found Jan Willy Kleer with a pinpoint cross into a textbook header, for 5-1. Islom Davlatov
, who had taken Leary down quite messily in the meantime, would somehow escape being sent off.