Yvan Goal The Difference
Lefébure Saves Manager
An 80th minute winner by French midfielder Yvan Lefébure
put a stay on Grilled coach Han Lik-Tsun
's axing, as he made good on his plege to put out a strong XI against Team of Semipro. However, while the first-team defence and midfield dealt adequately with the home side's uninspiring attack, Grilled's trainee forwards were far from setting the world alight too, and extra time appeared inevitable before Lefébure struck.
The small contingent of travelling fans were strangely subdued as the hosts lined up in their distinctive purple-checked shirts, with Han conversely animated as he went through a last-minute briefing with his players. Brand SG Park was filled to overflowing as Team of Semipro eyed a result in perhaps the biggest Cup matchup in their history thus far, and with sixteen straight wins behind them, had reason to believe they had a fair shot at progressing.
Grilled recognized that, which explained their unusually serious lineup so early in the Cup, with Olsson remaining in a watertight four-man backline. Josefsson and Dorogan were chosen to start alongside Lefébure, who has probably been Grilled's most consistent midfield performer.
The first half-hour was a tedious non-event as Team of Semipro hesitated to overcommit, having themselves chosen a very cautious 5-3-2 formation, while Grilled were happy with taking the measure of their opponents. Possession was quite evenly balanced as whatever pushes past the midway line were quickly picked off, and the goalkeepers might as well have not been present.
Finally, the hosts began to pick up the pace, urged on by the over forty-thousand strong crowd, but this intention was read by Grilled's experienced players, who baited the opponents into committing fouls. Fullback Lai Chin Dong was forced to bring Josefsson down as Grilled opened a clear path down the right, and got the first yellow card from referee Ling Enhua.
Grilled chose this time to make their move, and a premature attacking wave from the Semipros was sent right back at them by the covering Dorogan in the 35th minute. Safrinho collected the clearance and dropped it to Behr, who had stayed up from the previous free-kick, but the English sweeper didn't even come close with his powerful effort.
The Birds were undaunted, and after Simões was chopped down at the foot of the penalty area after getting surrounded, Yvan Lefébure
stepped up for the dead ball. The angle was in favour for the left footer, and he had Reinaart Quanjel worried with his curler towards the bottom corner, which unfortunately skimmed wide.
Han was clearly annoyed at Grilled not having made the breakthrough, and he called in the calvary - Erik Back
and Domenik Bögengang
took to the field in the second half, in place of the luckless Josefsson and Simões, who had gone about their business admirably.
There was no doubting the extra dimension that Bögengang brought to the side, however, and the Semipros were increasingly put under pressure as the match unfolded. Argentinean striker Eber Speroni was as motivated as anyone to get a goal as service dwindled, and he was booked for upending Vukota in a mad rush to retrieve the ball.
For all their control before that, Grilled were in danger of losing it as a sloppy pass from Mausisa was intercepted by Semipros winger Rembrandt Coldenhoff, whose quick first step put himself in front of the Filipino; the only answer to that that Mausisa could think of was leaving his leg out, which sent Coldenhoff flying. The home support bayed for red, but the referee did the right thing by flashing the yellow card.
Ironically, that turned out to be the distraction Grilled required, as they broke in numbers as Coldenhoff received treatment on the touchline. Bögengang made a nuisance of himself and was pushed over as he jostled for position on a high ball, and Lefébure did it right the second time round by sending Quanjel the wrong way after regular taker Bögengang stepped over the free-kick convincingly.