Got Any Red?
Acting Grilled captain Bilal Mohammad Harun
felt that the Birds were fortunate in the visitors having a clear weakness on their right, and also that they were not able to get the ball to Berthelsen more than they did. "We could have been in much more trouble, if their forwards had been able to run more with the ball. But as they say, attack is the best form of defense."
would not forget to mention Paulino Trindade
's outsized influence for the short half-hour he had. "There are games where everything just seems to go right for a player, and today's was Paulino's. Shame that it had to end the way it did. But if it's any consolation, he should be back by next week."
Farmer Bunnies would face a former national Ruby Challenger Cup winner too as had the Birds, with their hosts - Tokyo's FC Gotanda Gunners - having lifted the trophy just five seasons ago. Not only that, the Gunners are currently favourites to promote to the J. League from II.4, and it thus came as something of a pleasant surprise that they were able to pull off a victory, albeit on penalties.
This was helped by the Gunners generously fielding a near-wholly second-string side, with veteran leftback Kosuke Abe the most recognizable name in play. Abe had one saved by Gabriel Luke
in a tight first half that had Judah Cho
and Vitaliy Efendiev
lash at half-chances, and the second half was if anything even more conservative. Still, the Buns seemed to have done it after Edgar Popienia
's big header off a Guan Ming Kum
cross in the 61st minute held, but Yohei Akagi glanced it in off the far post with less than four minutes of normal time remaining.
Extra time saw Takuya Sakurai unwittingly retired by Tan Dong Hao
after a stray boot in mid-air, and it would be Gabriel Luke
to become the Buns' hero, as he stopped Spanish import Yang Haicheng's unconvincing take, in the Gunners' second kick of the shootout. Daisuke Matsumoto swept it wide on their next take, and Lee Yau Tong
's weak but ultimately good finish as the Buns' fourth representative would be enough to confirm the win.
Grilled International lost on penalties to Andorran III.11 club CaripotitosFC for their part, although they did well enough to claw their way back to tie it up, after Ville Alapuranen and Àngel Piquer had given Caripotitos a two-goal lead within seventeen minutes. Helmy Syamsuzaman
replied in the 37th after a sustained assault wore the visiting backline down, and Umut Koza
saved the match as International again ground their way through the centre, three minutes from time.
Granit Xhaka had Caripotitos in front again as they countered magnificently after Egidius van der Duin
had pulled his shot right across goal in the 103rd minute, but International had grit to spare, and Tommy Dongelmans
levelled with a stylish curler. Their composure on penalties left much to be desired, however, with all four youngsters failing to beat Ivan Guinovart, despite getting the shots on target.
"It's like he was telepathic." Mohsen Zeynali
, whose effort stroked down the middle was anticipated by Guinovart, moaned. "What luck!"