Arsenal Blown Up
Bern Baby Bern
The Birds all but qualified for the knockout stage of the Pacific Cup, with a 9-0 crushing of Illinois fifth divisioners Arsenal 1886 FC. The outcome was never going to be much in doubt from how Grilled acquitted themselves in the first few minutes - all but preventing AFC from getting a sniff - and it would soon become a question of by how much they would pad their goal advantage by.
Arsenal did have quality scattered about their team, with Czech forward Radek Slezák and Spanish captain Santiago Sarmiento popularly rated as a cut above the rest - and therein lay the problem for the Americans. The Birds' counterplay was as simple as crowding Sarmiento whenever he went, and this would be enough to secure near eighty percent possession throughout. That settled, it was merely a matter of allowing the Birds' raw individual ability to emerge, as when Bernie Egan
put-accelerated Eduardo Harvey to get the first goal, in the 17th minute.
There would be three more goals in the next seven minutes, as AFC were washed away by Grilled's attacking waves; Moey Xin Seng
would be next from Heng Dong Chu
's assist coming from the left, and Heng would go on to prove that he remained brutally effective - against clearly outmatched opposition, at least. Heng's physical advantages would allow him to pounce on an awkward corner take from Toma Stanchev, and Salah Kamel
would then fire past the rattled goalie for 4-0.
Arsenal would have some breathing room for a short while following that, as the Birds were held off for the next ten minutes or so, with André Mathias making some very important tackles. This spell would however be broken when Mateja Jeftić
drifted in from the right side after an extended run to up the score to 5-0, however, and Bernie Egan
would go on to round off his hat-trick, in the following few minutes.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, the commentary team were able to proudly announce that Egan had become the leading scorer of the tournament for now, with his sixth goal in the 39th - which seemed to kindle a resolve in the Arsenal defenders, not to allow him to have it all his way. The second half resumed with Bilal Mohammad Harun
on for Chu Xin Lee
, and two men hanging off Egan at his every step.
As it was, the Birds were focusing on not chalking up unneeded injuries at this point, and with their opponents never quite coming close to testing Manuel Vadalà
, it was understandable if Grilled got a little lazy. That however didn't keep Moey from recording a second goal coming from wide right, with Salah Kamel
rocking the crossbar on the next advance.
One more goal was in this match, or so it felt, but it wouldn't be Bilal's as Stanchev pulled off an incredible stop against his barnraiser in the 72nd minute, soon after Wu Jinglong
had entered to spice things up. It would be Wu himself to do the honours with six minutes remaining, and Egan's injury-time bid for a fourth goal for himself, would also be denied by Arsenal's Spanish custodian.