Chu Pulls Away
Venezuelan II.3 representatives Demoledores F.C. took the lead twice against Grilled Birds, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Singaporean visitors eventually triumphed - and by a four-goal margin at that - in this latest World Battle competition. Demoledores had maintained a proud record in this tournament, having won five of their six assignments thus far - coincidentally, the same as the Birds - and there appeared every chance that they would be the ones to make it to six victories, for much of the game.
Their Spanish head coach Gabriel Orozco had moreover, like Eren Serpin
, done ample duty as goalkeeper for the club, and was thus very much in tune with his squad's capabilities. Disastrous league form aside, Demoledores remained a very exciting team to watch when on fire, mostly thanks to homegrown forward pair Jeffrey Álvarez and Gonzalo Manares. To that had to be added Chilean 22 year-old Patricio Nazario Arizmendi, who had been more than decent in tying the two together at the top of an expressive 3-4-3.
Grilled's lineup, on the other hand, would largely pick itself, although Moey Xin Seng
's early return to action was quite unexpected. Kalle ter Berg
was an easy inclusion in midfield given that he'll have all of Sunday to rest, with Wu Jinglong
and Chu Xin Lee
manning the flanks. At the back, Bhavya Panigrahi
would sit this one out, with Serpin giving the lesser-seen Webb-Jeftić combination a run-out.
On that last, it didn't look the best for that specific partnership early on. There appeared a relative lack of understanding as both of them stepped up to challenge Arizmendi at the same time, which left him a brief window of opportunity to play the ball on - which he seized. Gonzalo Manares bulldozed Webb as the latter contended with the sudden change in direction, and kept an eye on the far corner, to which he drilled the opener.
It was thus one-nil to Demoledores by the fifth minute, though the Birds would steady themselves following that. Possession-wise, Grilled would shade their opponents clearly if slightly, despite much creativity from Güven Efşan, and this gave rise to Vikram Mudaliar
penetrating deep on the left, in the 23rd minute. The immediate danger seemed to have passed when Mudaliar's strike was blocked behind for a corner by Rossano Corniani, but the referee had spotted it glancing off Karl-Gösta Kjellwald's knuckles beforehand. The Demoledores fans were unconvinced that the subtle touch had taken place, but Mateja Jeftić
wasn't about to get involved in the debate, as he equalized from the spot.
The Venezuelans would get their own back within eight minutes, against the run of play, in an admirable demonstration of defense through offence. The attacking bent of their formation notwithstanding, Demoledores had mastered the art of presenting threats without the commitment of more than a few men, and thus it was when Israeli wingback Colin Kenny raced upfield unnoticed in the 32nd minute. José Fernando Cedeño found him with a diagonal forty-yarder, and Kenny met it with an exquisite volleyed finish, to make it 2-1.
One could hardly shake that Grilled had been on top for most of the proceedings, however, and there was an air of serendipity around Demoledores making it to the interval still ahead. That would change, and fast, as a reinvigorated Birds team came out for the second half. There would be a newfound crispness about their first few passes, and after encroaching on the opposition box for some time, Kalle ter Berg
would catch Rossano Corniani unawares with what looked like a cross, but which then drifted into the top corner.
The Birds were buoyed by drawing level a second time, with Demoledores deflated in contrast, and the already-precarious balance began to tilt irredeemably in Grilled's favour. Being forced back into their own half would largely kill Demoledores' deterrent effect, and Grilled would finally take the lead beginning from a speedy incursion by Kalki Parvathaneni
. Corniani saved the first attempt, but Mudaliar broke the lines again almost immediately, and unselfishly squared for Chu Xin Lee
's easy chip.
Demoledores were allowed next to no time to adjust, as Grilled pressed forward with great urgency once they absorbed the kick-off, and Chu would find the net with his very next effort too - a stiff left-footed drive. The goal held up Serpin's planned double substitution of Muthyala and Panigrahi on for Wu and Jeftić, but none of them were exactly complaining; Kalki wouldn't either, as the Birds managed a third goal in as many minutes, with Demoledores's defence in absolute shambles.
There was no doubt about the outcome after that, but there was time for one last goal from the Birds, as Ter Berg marked his one-game layoff. Muthyala had taken over free-kick duties, and pulled one across the box for perhaps the oldest trick in the book. It remained a very effective one as the Dutchman raked it home, which as it turned out would be his final big contribution before being taken off for Bilal Mohammad Harun