Leventes Left Behind
Grilled Birds returned to Cyprus forty-four seasons after their 0-7 thumping by Gate 7, and managed somewhat better against current III.12 leaders Leventes. As with Grilled, Leventes had resolved to visit all recognized Hattrick territories around the globe, and completed that quest in January; they have now switched to the host side of that equation, which the Birds were only too happy to oblige.
While the club's management has maintained strong links with the national setup, they have not exactly relied very much on locals to make up the headcount. Their biggest name starting in this friendly was unquestionably Ukrainian former U-20 international Borys Korobchenko, who generally plays central defence in the league. Korobchenko's not half bad at right wing too, though, which is where he was slated to play today.
Young Iranian acting skipper Yinon Sonnenfeld would go through the pre-match ceremonies with Grilled's Yuta Nakakita
, which concluded with the exchange of club pennants. The Birds' graciousness would only go that far, however, with Chan Ze Han
holding little back in completely fooling trainee fullback Serhat Özsanlı in the sixth minute. Özsanlı was left stumbling several steps into empty space, as Chan tapped the ball one way and went the other, before going on to slip it past Luigi Andrenacci for 1-0.
The close to six thousand souls watching at the Alamana didn't know what to think about that, but Leventes wouldn't let them down for the next half-hour, as they matched their visitors with some fervour. Grilled's stark possessional advantage remained difficult to overcome, however, and a beautiful pass flighted over forty yards out to Heng Dong Chu
from Mohd Jafni Abdul Majid
would carve their defence apart in the 35th minute. Heng knew what he had to do, and put it back centrally for José Luiz Velho
to have a crack at it.
That made it two-nil, but Leventes would haul themselves back level with two great strikes in the next couple of minutes. Korobchenko was unwilling to be outdone by Heng, and his raw physical abilities shone through with a reflexive rampage down that flank, leading to Yinon Sonnenfeld's reducer. Korobchenko was at it again after an abortive cheeky restart from the Birds, and playmaker Sait Erma capped his cross with a wonderful chip just beyond Manuel Vadalà
That certainly roused the home supporters, who were moved to uniform protest, after referee Knud Morris awarded Grilled a sketchy-seeming free-kick in the 40th minute; Chan seemed to have gone down rather easily then. Bhavya Panigrahi
stood patiently as Sonnenfeld had his say, before embarking on a long run-up, and thrashing it through the wall and past Andrenacci.
Leventes would bemoan leaving a hole then, and never quite hit their previous heights in the second half. Islom Davlatov
, who has yet to withdraw his transfer request, put himself in the shop window with several excellent efforts, of which only the first went in. Panigrahi had another on-target free-kick punched over by the goalkeeper in that period, while the hosts' best reply came through Dario Gatta, who however put his shot too close to Vadalà.
Grilled would turn to their left flank for inspiration once more, and Heng Dong Chu
answered the call. Heng had oft been unstoppable once in full flight, but on this occasion, he would simply release it to Velho's feet once over the halfway line. As Leventes scrambled to get the numbers back, Velho laid it off in turn to Gilbert Webb
, who retained the presence of mind to allow Paco Oviedo to commit his tackle, before drawing it back and nicking it home for 5-2.
, not to be left out, then found the upright as Heng's productivity continued. This was followed by Radovan Jaška
's exit after suffering an unintentional headbutt to the chin, with Dante Tran
and Yee Jian Hui
seeing some minutes, before it was all over. Finally, Mohd Jafni bet and won with a first-time effort on a measured through ball, right before the final whistle.