So Near Yet So Far
Woodlands-based Fafane Club gave it as good as they got, Italian stallion Settimio Franceschini putting out an accomplishment for the ages as he single-handedly kept his side in the game with four great goals, but Grilled hit five to put one foot in the semifinals of the SG Super Cup VIII.
Fafane's fans were expecting great things from the 26 year-old striker, whose 19 goals already this season affirm a burgeoning canniness embellishing his undoubted ability in the air. It was another who sounded the gong, though, as the currently low-profile Chow Ying Lee
zoomed past the outside of German fullback Bennie Rindlisbacher after being released by Zhu Changchun
, all that before the third minute.
Franceschini was just getting warmed up, and set off his path to glory in short order. Former Australian U-20 midfielder Ned Carter had been doing well stringing play along, and he led an impressive sweep through the middle that ended with Franceschini knocking it past Edmund Kryus
Neither of the Polish goalies were having much luck, and Gabriel Orzłowski would let in two in two minutes at the other end, both due to deep runs by Shiya Shaahee
. Dutch captain Tinus van Bohemen tried to stick to the Maldives winger, but Shaahee was undefendable then, and supplied assists to Qassem Madaini
and Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
Not to be outdone, Franceschini redoubled his efforts, and his dominating the usually indomitable Madaini was a sight to behold. There however appeared little hope of anything when countryman Renato Navarrini whipped it in viciously in the 18th minute, but the ball somehow wound up in the back of the net as both Franceschini and Madaini dove for it. The Grilled skipper raised his arm in protest, but the linesmen hadn't seen anything, and the goal stood.
The scoreline stood too till half-time, and the restart again saw Grilled draw first blood, with Ling Fuquan
getting on the end of yet another thoughtful through ball from Tian Yonghang
. The story repeated itself, though, as who else but Franceschini dipped a magnificent effort in from outside the box in the 61st minute for a sparkling hat-trick.
The Birds were on balance probably still the better side, if slightly, and Seytek Djekshenkulov
thought he had finally put the issue to bed with a thumping header from a Madaini corner immediately in response. Fafane were indeed subdued, and Niculae Stanca
thought it safe to pull Shaahee for Alex Fonseca
in the 75th minute to help defend.
Madaini himself was heading off for Rashid bin Ahmad
to come in when yes, Franceschini, got the Fafane supporters excited once more with another delightful header, even if fellow tower Dries Van Landuyt had a role in keeping Ling Fuquan
Stanca had had enough of the superman, and ordered lu Zunwen
to help man-mark him together with Rashid, which just about worked for the ten remaining minutes.