Keeping It Real
Real Balmoral, still stinging badly from last week's heavy loss, would have to face Grilled Birds a second time, this at home. They did have a couple of players returning from injuries, foremost of all German forward Fabian Harnisch, who reclaimed the captain's armband; Michel Battaglia likewise returned to the right wing, allowing Elia Amorese to take up his normal central position, as Tung Jian Lee got squeezed out.
The home fans couldn't be expecting too much given how lopsided last Sunday's clash was, and Grilled indeed set off to continue where they had left off, as Moey Xin Seng
stung Lech Szczutkowski's hands with a tremendous piledriver, running onto the ball from deep. That greeting done with, the Birds kept at it on the slippery pitch, and Ozren Pavelić had Vikram Mudaliar
slip his eye in the ninth minute, to lethal consequences.
The hosts actually got better after that lapse, and the Birds would be frustrated by their robust defending, particularly in their own half. Swift movement on the outside was tricky due to the reduced grip of the pitch, though Belarus playmaker Aliaksandar Pihanovich wouldn't be able to use that as an excuse, when he clattered Chu Xin Lee
once too many in the 29th minute. Pihanovich knew what was coming as referee Ville-Matias Koukkari approached, and his protestations didn't keep him from being carded.
It got painful as Kalki Parvathaneni
's right knee buckled, following an aerial contest that had Zoltán Koller fall on it, but this turned out to be just the impetus that Grilled required. Cyril Künzler
, not content with penalty gifts, would overrun the Real Balmoral backline for 2-0, right before Kalki's replacement Bernie Egan
nipped in for the third. Now having conceded eleven without reply, including last week, Real Balmoral had Fabian Harnisch edge past Bhavya Panigrahi
, to deliver a telling cross. None of his teammates were available as it rolled agonizingly slowly across the goalline, sadly for him.
Harnisch continued inspiring his mates after the break, and the second half began with a similar break. This time, Ozren Pavelić had somehow found himself in a position to pick up the pass, but he couldn't compose himself before Massoud Dob
scrambled over to claim. This would perhaps be the closest that Real Balmoral would come, over the two matches.
On the other side, Cyril Künzler
would soon have his second of the day, and fifth overall, after Grilled turned the tables with their advanced press. Bernie Egan
refused to give Billy Gustavsson any space to think, and Pavelić wasn't where the defender expected him to be. Instead, it would be Künzler who best predicted Gustavsson's move, and he zigzagged in to deposit Grilled's fourth goal.
came on for the mostly-stable Bhavya Panigrahi
in the 70th minute, as Real Balmoral's stamina drained; the heavy ground hadn't been the most conducive for their pressing tack, and the Birds would be afforded more and more room to operate as their opponents fell off. Chan Ze Han
certainly had his pick of Mudaliar and Egan as he advanced with intent, but instead caught Lech Szczutkowski backpedalling with a sweetly-flighted lob.
If Mudaliar was slightly disappointed - he was the logical option, after all - he didn't show it, and made it up for himself with a hat-trick by the end. He again made himself useful when Florus Romijn
looked up in the 77th minute, before chasing Gilbert Webb
's through ball down in injury time, against a by-then disinterested-looking Balmoral defence.