Velinov Leads Team
Grilled's twelve-game unbeaten run was finally broken by AC Fantasista, who extended their own winning streak to nine matches, in the sixth round of the Cup. Niculae Stanca
experimented with a conservative system comprising defensive wing support, but the expected stinginess failed to materialise as Fantasista scored four nevertheless.
was inducted as the only centreback as Qassem Madaini
and Lin Jungui
hung wide, to counter the home team's vaunted strength on the wing, but there was no stopping Dragan Vasković after he got in behind debutant Liang Liyong
in the 14th minute. 22 year-old Bulgarian captain Evgeni Velinov broke in concert towards the middle, trapped the diagonal ball coming in, and put it beyond Dexter Stacey
The Birds weren't looking too fluid, with the loss of a man in attack further hampered by Liang and Ling predictably unconvincing taking it up, but they still managed to equalise after some determined banging on the door. Chow Ying Lee
played it off Vasil Nenov for a corner, which Madaini swung in and Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
headed home, easy as pie.
Chan Leng Kok hit the bar as Fantasista restarted strongly, but this turned quickly to Grilled's favour as Changchun blindly whacked the rebound. The bounce went kindly for Mohd Safri, who had stayed barely onside, and he sighted Abdul bin Jantan
rushing upfield on the far side. The goalscorer made the correct decision with a decisive lob into bin Jantan's path, and collected the assist.
Grilled were never comfortable despite the lead, though, as Fantasista were in control throughout, and managed regular attempts on Stacey's goal. Per Håkansson's screamer went just over in the 37th minute, and a while later Dragan Vasković rammed the ball into an incoming Ling, sending it spinning out of control past Stacey.
With the match tied up going into half-time, the hosts didn't wait to put themselves ahead again after the restart, as the exuberant Vasković got free down the right once more. It was Dutch striker Loek Boosten who would supply the finish this time, dinking it cheekily with the outside of his boot and claiming his first Cup goal of the season.
It was all too much for Stanca, who finally made the change he had been considering through the interval. Chow Ying Lee
was sacrificed for Alex Fonseca
in defence, in the hope that Grilled would solidify and eke out a wonder goal to take the game into extra time.
It didn't quite work, even if bin Jantan forced a great save out of Ruy Botto in the 57th minute, as Fantasista more or less ended Grilled's hopes with a self-made fourth from Velinov, who outfoxed both central defenders in the process.
While Grilled did get better towards the end, it was far from enough, and Velinov nearly completed what would have been a sensational hat-trick when he skimmed the ball against the outside of the post with six minutes to go. Liang Liyong
's was however spared walking off his first game with Grilled in defeat, as he was substituted by Shiya Shaahee
in added time.