Sum Of All Gears
IronMath On Top
Former Hungarian national champions IronMath, fresh from shutting Farmer Bunnies out in the Division Battles, would follow up with a clear 6-3 victory over Grilled Birds. They made but one change from the side that started against the Buns, with the injured Ettore Giancristofaro replaced in defence by fellow Italian Giovanni Facciolla. The reshuffle also had Moldovan midfielder Dídac Prades reenter the lineup, and take the armband back from Evaristo Iazzett.
Tactics-wise, IronMath would be hard-pressed to find a team as diametrically opposed to the Buns' defence-first outlook as the Birds, who laid out perhaps their paciest available frontline of Mudaliar, Kalki and Bernie Egan
. The commentators' debate over whether this left them kind of unbalanced was rudely interrupted in the fourth minute, as Egan was first to Moey Xin Seng
's big header from the centre circle. Jakub Chojnacki tried to slow the Irishman down, but Egan lost him with a sudden sideways pull, and slotted confidently home.
Grilled were well up for it, and Mudaliar did his fair share of hustling from the front, though his tackling technique might admit improvement, from how badly he caught Joseph Edwards. The yellow card was accepted, and the match went on with possession changing hands at a rapid clip. IronMath got the next breakthrough via Welsh wizard Robert Jones on the left, and Xia Jingrong did the pass across goal justice with his improvised outside-of-boot chip over Massoud Dob
The game wouldn't stay level for long, and Grilled were again ahead within five minutes, with Mudaliar returning the favour off Cyril Künzler
's weighted assist. The Birds appeared to be pulling away for a while there, with Xia forced into a booking chasing Bilal Mohammad Harun
down over thirty yards; they would then again be level as Gal Saihan polished off another Jones gift from the left, though, and it would be Bhavya Panigrahi
's turn to get into the referee's book, as IronMath bedazzled him with their ready interpassing.
The second half began in a more cagey manner than had the first, with the teams now well aware of what each other were capable of. For the first twenty minutes, it was largely a midfield battle of wills, with Moey and Prades butting heads more than once. A particularly vicious clash about the sixtieth minutes saw both down and out for a while, and Moey would return with a tightly-bandaged forehead.
Moey's drive hadn't been sapped by that knock, and he was if anything even more active than before. His big opportunity came in the 65th minute, as IronMath failed the clear their lines, and he wasted no time in lashing Grilled's third goal hard and under ex-Moldovan international goalkeeper Iliodor Rotaru. To this, IronMath would bite back a third time, as Saihan raced through on their kick-off with Grilled's backline having lost their concentration for a short few seconds.
The deciding turning point of the game would then occur, after Panigrahi tumbled a drifting Raimund Jaksch some metres outside the box. The Grilled defender seemed genuinely shocked as the referee flashed the yellow again, and then the red, and he eventually had to be escorted off by his fellows, lest he invite further post-game discipline.
And the worst did happen, as Panigrahi had barely disappeared into the tunnel, when Joseph Edwards busted through to give the Hungarians the lead for the first time. Hovaness Noubaryan
had an extended celebration during which to plot his contigency, and he would put Yuta Nakakita
on for the slightly-limping Gilbert Webb
, while motioning for Bilal and Neeraj to make it up as best as they could.
It didn't quite work as Evaristo Iazzetta soon made it five with a sweet glancing header from Ilya Alyunin's delivery, and Edwards put the final nail in the coffin after Heng Dong Chu
's arrival for Islom Davlatov