Left-sided pair Feliciano Rodrigues and Lito Mejares tore it up for Claseek at their home stadium today, although Grilled did at least have the excuse of putting out an experimental midfield. Rinor Isufi
would at least save them from a totally demoralising whitewash, with his consolation goal late in the first half, but there was little question as to who actually deserved the win today.
This would mark the full league debuts of Kalki Parvathaneni
and Chu Xin Lee
, who were, if anything, hardly overawed by the occasion. Unfortunately for them, a bright start would be followed by the understanding that a willingness to run could not quite make up for a lack of passing nous, and to the exasperation of Yuta Nakakita
- who resembled a babysitter in mannerism at times - his colleagues' limited toolbox would be exposed all too readily.
It was a wonder in itself that this weakened Birds side held out as long as it did, and the ever-deadly Ian Kleine would finally break their resistance in the 26th minute. With some inspired marking by Yuki Irie
saving Grilled from his aerial depredations previously, Kleine would go the low route this time, and caught Valentin Batâr
out with a fiendishly clever chip with his inside foot.
The raids only increased in frequency, with Grilled by now getting overrun in the middle, and Kosuke Mizushima broke through the right side nine minutes later, to post in an excellent cross that Rodrigues nipped in to score from. The raw pace throughout Claseek's team was again taking its toll on the Birds, and from the look of things, it was only going to get worse.
Indeed, Mohammad Ramli Saliman
had to give up a yellow card, after getting burnt by Mara Roekanda on Claseek's next attack, but at least Grilled did have some speedsters on their side too. With Dhany Kaifar finding himself somehow in charge of defence, after a particularly messy Grilled advance, Rinor Isufi
homed in on this mismatch, and surged through to deposit it in between goalie José María Albornos's legs.
The high from his audacious goal wouldn't last very long, however, as Claseek swiftly forestalled any dreams of an equaliser. It would be the long-serving Mejares who would circle around as Tung Guicheng drove the action up the left, and with Grilled's central defenders already having their hands full with Kleine's movement, it was open for Mejares to swing by and rifle a third past Batar.
While Djan Bacelar
did have Ang Leong Kum
and Zhao Jing Wei
on the bench, he had evidently written the game off as a lesson to the youngsters. Parvathaneni and Chu would be doing more sinking than swimming, however, and one had to suspect that they were sorely missing their connection with the suspended Moey Xin Seng
Claseek slowly cranked it back up as the second half drew on, and in a clash of Japanese-Singaporeans in the 72nd, Mizushima nearly broke Yuta Nakakita
's ankles, after selling him an incredibly slick stepover. Fortunately for Nakakita, this burn didn't have a lasting impact, as Mizushima then curled his finish somewhat disappointingly high and wide.
It was quickly becoming a practice shooting session for the hosts, as the Birds all but abandoned their midfield, and Rodrigues made it 4-1 with his scorching through the last ten yards, in the 79th minute. The pick of them all would have to be Kaifar's outrageous banana kick on the turn right after that, but as fate would have it, it pinged off the goalpost in the end.
That didn't mean that Grilled had escaped, however, and after Batar was again spared thanks to Kleine's improvised shot coming off and over his crossbar, he would be well beaten by Mejares with five minutes to spare. Parvathaneni had correctly identified the winger as the major threat that time, but could do nothing to prevent him from getting his strike off.
There would be a final sting in the tail, as Gennady Dvorak
sat down with a knee injury about that time. Tian Yonghang
, who had been observing the going-ons less than cheerily from the bench, would have to step in out of protocol, but he certainly knew that the game was well beyond him by then.