Aces Go Places
Colombian Division Three visitors Aces High FC, roused by a few hundred fanatical members of their Children of the Damned fanclub, flattened the Birds 6-1 through good old-fashioned midfield dominance. Captain Víctor Elí Carpintero led by example with a hat-trick in the first half, while Grilled's skipper Hilal Bakhtiar
belatedly replied with a fine penalty to spare some blushes.
All the early threat emanated from homegrown hotshot Armando Iztueta though, the 20 year-old widely recognized to have a shining future ahead of him. The Number 21 didn't disappoint, serving as a foil in the second minute for his junior Claudio Darío Rodriguez to slip the first goal over Dan Seng
Carpintero then took firm control of the match, as he made a real living off parking by the edge of the penalty area and butting in at the most apropos moments with relish. First to come was a spectacular midair slice that stunned Seng completely, and next was a straightforward but nevertheless effective volley after the inexperienced goalie had wandered too far out.
Aces had to make a change after teenaged Arley Siatama roughed his knee up while competing for the ball, necessitating midfielder Rómulo Hugo Cáceres to slot in up top. Not that it kept Carpintero from again outwitting Seng in the 34th minute, and only a loss of composure from Rodriguez prevented a five-star half for the visitors.
Luis Alcántara was evidently not about to help his trainees out much, with the only change for the second half being a tactical switch of positions between Shiya Shaahee
and Ling Fuquan
. It did confuse Aces a little, with Shaahee pinning down the previously active Rodolfo Thiessen on the left for some time, but Grilled made little headway either. Leong Wan Kang
wound up kicking the ball into the stands in frustration after having a decision go against him, rightly punished with an immediate yellow.
Grilled were up for a taste of their own medicine as Aces demonstrated the knack of boring in from midfield that the Birds themselves did on Sunday, and Luis Carlos España was the prime exponent after Thiessen sussed Shaahee out. With the Maldives winger well-intentionally stationing himself high and wide, Bakhtiar often found himself stared down by both Thiessen and España alone, and it was no surprise when the latter waltzed through in the 67th minute, and again in the 77th.
Bakhtiar did get some measure of recompense when referee Leif Sunesson gave Grilled a soft penalty towards the end after the ever-competitive Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
went over after slight contact by Felipe Fiol in the box. The captain buried it neatly into the left bottom corner, before being substituted by Walter Ross
. Tian Yonghang
again took over the armband for the remaining few minutes, while Rosendo Chinchay
made his first appearance of the season for the mostly-invisible Yvan Lefébure
in the hole.