Zhu Hits Two
Grilled achieved their first official win over -= Manchester United =- in fine style, and the 6-1 margin at Old Trafford will go some way towards erasing the 1-8 humiliation suffered at home at the end of last season. Further, this was achieved without the indisputable predatory instincts of Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
, though the balance that the ensuing 3-5-2 fielded attained may not bode well for the off-form forward's return.
Mohd Safri's utterly terrible form has been rumoured to have gotten him some sessions with the club psychologist, but seeing as he is taking a spot on the bench, it hasn't worked. Due to that, Djan Bacelar
had to make a few shuffles, with Low Aik Jia
unleashed on the left wing, and Clément Meyer
trusted in midfield. Zhu Changchun
, still finding his feet coming back from injury, was tasked with the area between midfield and defence - but as he soon demonstrated, he could excel anywhere.
United for their part have not been their usual imperious self, and they looked as vulnerable as they have ever been after straight league defeats against All Stars Team and Scallop Soccer Team, before being booted out of the Cup by akodo on Wednesday. However, they remained with a full team to pick from, and with the likes of Valentin Bugaev and S$16 million former Algerian youth international Aziz Djeghbala in attack, they had it in them to explode out of nowhere.
And explode they did. United pushed a ferocious tempo right from kick-off, as Blaise Ault forced Chow Ying Lee
off the ball. This led to a very early corner, and the Swiss was again in the thick of things as he helped it on to a waiting Adriano Hausladen, who crashed his shot in off the far post.
Given the Birds' atrocious record against United, the visiting fans could only shrug at that. However, there were soon signs that this time could be different, as Grilled slowly but definitively won control of the midfield. The width provided by their wingers contributed, as this drew United's line thin, and Zhu Changchun
would power in the equaliser after 13 minutes, with Tian Yonghang
providing the assist.
The hosts were not easily discouraged, and concentrated on destroying Grilled's attacks for much of the half. Meyer got on the receiving end of a tough tackle from Ioan-Felician Nicoară in the process, but he would soon be smiling through the pain as his teammates won the ball back, before Chow Ying Lee
sprinted through to put Grilled into the lead.
United were chomping to get their own back on the restart, and it was only through the combined efforts of Ling and Filippone that Djeghbala was contained. This uncertainty at the back only came to an abrupt stop in the 57th minute, when Wong Ping Shun
broke through on the right, after Raúl Tejada Jávea took his eyes off the ball. Low Aik Jia
dashed in from the other flank, and swept the driven cross past Sylvain Barning in one smooth motion.
This broke the hosts' determination, and Zhu Changchun
widened the gap to three immediately afterwards, as he scrambled through a by-now perilously-empty United central defence. Leaving such a hole was always going to be risky, but Belgian head coach Steven Van Zele realised that he had no choice. Once the gamble failed, though, there would be no stopping the goallust.
would dink in a fifth, before Chow Ying Lee
claimed top spot in the league scorers' table with a bit of calm thinking, sidestepping Hausladen's sliding challenge as the German committed himself too soon. When it rains, it pours, and United then had to watch Ukrainian wingback Zlatomyr Churilov be stretched off following a full-on shin-to-boot incident with Woon Shun An
Polish replacement Łukasz Roszkowiak slotted in easily, but could not impose himself with possession still being monopolised by Grilled, who played out the last fifteen minutes tamely enough.