|Season 52||L||4 - 6||Tournament (Playoffs)|
Madaini Makes Point
Grilled finally advanced in the ladder on their fifth try, usurping -= Manchester United =-'s tenth position by the skin of their teeth. It was the second clash between the two in days, with United moreover tasting sweet success against Le Garcon in the league. On-form Uruguayan striker Juan Argimón, who struck twice in that match, was on target for them in the 24th minute, his stooping header off the mercurial Constantin Buda's unconventional cross giving United the lead.
The Birds had not been all that quiet before that, though, as Qassem Madaini
had dropped a free-kick onto the wrong side of the post earlier. The skipper's absence against ChamWin evidently hadn't done him any harm, with him being pretty sharp when facing down United before the Argimón breakthrough. For that, Buda had found just the right mix of lift and speed in delivering.
Grilled then hit a bad patch, with their forwards probably cursing the endless rain that had been blanketing the island for the past few days. Chow Ying Lee
messed up a simple clearance to let Buda in, and it was only thanks to a full-length leap by Edmund Kryus
to save from Valentin Bugaev, that United didn't run away with the result.
Despite that reprive, Grilled still looked vulnerable, and it was apparent that they needed to score if only to get a hold of themselves. With the forwards in a funk, Madaini took it upon himself to drag them out of it personally. To be frank, it involved mostly a very hard whack from his right boot after picking the ball up just inside the penalty area, but that turned out to be enough to get it past Basilio Lazzaretto.
Madaini then figured that if he could do it once, why not twice? In their first attack after United's kick-off, Zhao Jing Wei
held it up while waiting for support, and must have been as surprised as any when the 33 year-old Madaini zoomed by calling for it. Not flinching at the rare sight, Zhao obliged, and the United defence were just as confused as they allowed Madaini to sidestep in and finish.
All the Grilled outfielders piled on their captain at that, in a testament to how popular the Saudi remains with the squad. Madaini managed to emerge unscathed, and continued guiding from the back as the Birds made to increase their lead. United stood firm, however, and Zhao had to bring down Dumitru Coca in the 55th minute, a clear yellow card offence.
United then hit back against the run of play, as the referee awarded a free-kick for what looked like a clean tackle by an inspired lu Zunwen
. Argimón sent it apparently well short, but in actuality in just the right spot for Alex Margue to scoot over and scoop it over the Birds' wall. Timmo Thode was the last piece of the puzzle, waiting on the shoulder of Ling, and completed the trick by stabbing it past Kryus.
Thode was once more Grilled's bane as he sprinted past Ling four minutes later, before passing for Valentin Bugaev to smash in. Thankfully for Grilled, they wouldn't have to think about being behind for too long, as Abdul bin Jantan
finally saw fit to make a contribution from the previously-staid right wing, bending it in from just across the half-way line for Chow Ying Lee
to race for and just about bang it under Lazzaretto.
There would be no further clear-cut chances, but the Birds ended perhaps slightly the fresher, with United having chased the ball more. They started extra time impatiently, Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
bringing it to the left side before whipping in one of those hybrid balls that could have been either a cross or a shot. As it was, it caught Vittorio Bellorini on his side, and Tian Yonghang
nearly managed to pounce on it before Bellorini figured out what was going on.
United were barely hanging on now as the Birds sent wave after wave of attacks, and Grilled sealed victory in the 98th minute, Mohd Safri heading straight in from a corner.