|Season 50||W||2 - 3||League|
|Season 50||D||3 - 3||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 47||W||6 - 3||Qualification|
|Season 34||W||1 - 8||League|
|Season 34||D||5 - 5||League|
Birds Hauled In
Caxaria's Big Catch
Grilled's astonishing eight-game winning run in the league finally fell at the hands of Rapala FC, as the sides assembled yet another multi-goal thriller at The Cooking Pot, with Rapala coming out on top for the first time in five meetings. They had Portuguese central midfielder Natércio Caxaria, who contributed measured passing and two goals, to thank after a frentic ninety minutes.
The Birds trotted out a 3-5-2 as expected after Chow Ying Lee
's long-term injury limited their options, and relative newcomers Ling Fuquan
and Liang Liyong
started alongside captain Qaseem Madaini at the back. Rapala placed their faith in a similar formation, as they dropped out-and-out forward Jesús Peñarrubia from the side that drew three-all at heimu, and inserted Gabriel Daire, who had been forced to stand in at keeper last week, as the third man.
The over seventy thousand home fans were expectant as the referee blew for the start, and with good reason due to the history of the fixture. Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
bounced about, but Grilled were missing something in the final third, and flattered to deceive. Rapala were not exactly firing on all cylinders in this period either, and Moldovan Daniel Leaşcu's puttering about after a stiff hit to the knee didn't seem to be favourable for the visitors.
It did however lead to Rapala's first in a way, as the Grilled players got a little sloppy thinking that they were a man up, and were given a wake-up call when José Alberto Nilo stripped Ling of the ball. Qassem Madaini
couldn't cover when Joni Huhtamäki surged together with Caxaria on his side, and Dexter Stacey
stretched ineffectually when Caxaria curled it in.
While high on past reputation, this particular Grilled defensive combination has yet to click, and Ling soon found himself in foul trouble after being carded for clinging to Nilo in his haste. There was hesitation all around when Huhtamäki ran at them, with neither Ling nor Liang eager to pick up the runner. In the end, Stacey was neatly nutmegged by the flying Finn.
With Stacey spewing at his defenders at the back, the Birds were given much incentive to push up, and had a bona-fide chance when lu Zunwen
appeared favourite to reach a through ball by Tian and go one-on-one with Tebbitt. However, Rodolf Sauleda evened the odds with a slick slide-in, and Rapala's counter down the right produced a wonderful effort by Caxaria that spun in off the near post.
Grilled did manage to respond this time as Zhu Changchun
anticipated Mohd Safri's flick-on to smash one past Tebbitt, and Stacey did his part at the other end to deny Huhtamäki after Nilo had broken behind yet again, and circled all the way almost to his left-hand post.
marked the start of the second half with a rocket from some twenty metres out, but was not going to beat Tebbitt at that range and angle with anything less than a miracle. Nilo, however, had no such issues with Stacey, having been allowed inside the six-yard box with Liang Liyong
finding himself trapped a step behind the striker.
At least Grilled kept at it despite being three down, and Mohd Safri did what he does best in the 67th minute to lift his teammates. After having a first attempt deflected onto the upright by the goalkeeper, the Grilled superstar avoided a challenge while shielding the rebound, and found the other side of the net on the turn.
The Birds were not the only ones to be disappointed by the woodwork, as Savva Veremeenko poked the ball onto the outside of a post at the other end, and Zhu then gave the home fans real hope of a recovery when he called for supply after Woon Shun An
had taken the ball to the head of the penalty area. The Rapala defence failed to cut out the pass, and Zhu dealt it precisely to the far post for 3-4.
Veremeenko again failed to make it safe when he hit the crossbar from a sharp Rapala raid down the middle, but Grilled were out of ideas too, as the visitors withdrew with the seconds ticking away. Lin Jungui
and Alex Fonseca
were thrown on in an effort to steal a draw, but Tebbitt was unflappable, and the Birds were humbled.