-= Manchester United =- didn't take long to get their own back for last weekend's defeat, as they returned the favour to Grilled at The Cooking Pot. Grilled were set for their first league defeat of the season after United struck four without reply in the first half, as newly-arrived Romanian midfielder Ioan-Felician Nicoară endeared himself to the United faithful with a breakout performance.
Before the game, however, the weight of expectation was solidly on the home side, given that they had just broken their hoodoo against a United side that had lost three league games in a row. With Mohd Safri's condition still a mystery, Djan Bacelar
decided to give Che Harun bin Sabtu
his starting debut in II.2, further playing Wong Ping Shun
in the middle as the Birds went back to their old central style.
It all went excellently for them in the early stages, as the cautious visitors held themselves back. Current league top scorer Chow Ying Lee
kept himself atop the charts in the thirteenth minute, as he instinctively flicked a forward lob on and over Sylvain Barning with his back to goal. It was a brilliant bit of invention that the home crowd appreciated deeply, going by the volume that followed.
That advantage would slowly wither away as United grew accustomed to Grilled's attacking patterns, though, and without wingers to stretch the backline, United could just about cope. They would equalise in the 29th minute through Nicoară, who made his way through after being played on by Aziz Djeghbala, as Gene Filippone
futilely tried to make his case for offside.
There was then a contentious incident, where Che Harun led with his elbow into Adriano Hausladen's face as both were going for a header. Camera replays suggested that it was unintentional, and the Grilled forward looked geniunely apologetic, but with it being clear that Hausladen would be in no condition to continue, referee Mika Tervakallio showed him the yellow card as a compromise.
Dumitru Coca's entry only served to light Manchester up, however, and Nicoară soon gave them the lead. Estonian winger Valery Dymnich was allowed to advance on the outside by Woon Shun An
, who looked out of his element trying to stay out wide, and the incoming cross was picked off at just the right moment. Wong Tian Han
made a good go, but it went in off his gloves.
If any more sign was needed that Woon was not suited to be a winger, it would be supplied on the restart, as Dymnich skipped past him like nothing to make it 3-1. The disquieted home fans had no idea how to react, and were completely silenced five minutes on, when Valentin Bugaev notched his sixth goal in as many games against Grilled with a slickly-done drive on a all-out advance.
The Birds did leave some hope of a comeback as Clément Meyer
scored his first for the club since his move off a corner kick, while Woon Shun An
nearly got the deficit down to within a goal with a tremedous scorcher from some distance out. Barning had defender Raúl Tejada Jávea to thank for keeping that one from flying in.
Compared to the action-packed first forty-five minutes, the second period was rather more measured, as United coach Steven Van Zele wisely deployed his men as to maintain the lead, while relying on wing attacks to keep Grilled at bay. Wong Ping Shun
made a belated effort at countering that, but it was only by luck that Grilled didn't fall further behind, and Wong moreover took a late tackle from Bugaev for this troubles.
responded with a stiff one of his own on Djeghbala, but the free-kick that followed was blasted into the wall by Markus Närhi. It was booted downfield but then put narrowly wide by Che Harun, and was then returned via a huge goal-kick to the foot of Grilled's penalty area, where Närhi got a second crack at the cherry with a spectacular overhead kick, that sailed jarringly close by Wong's net.
The crowd's chants for a comeback did not work, however, as Bugaev widened the gap to three again with 22 minutes remaining, through some magnificent shooting. The Birds would then suffer Clément Meyer
leaving through injury, before Che Harun gave them some bare comfort as he used his experience to get on the end of a Tian Yonghang