Geylang International midfield maestro Vincent Bezecourt came off the bench at half time to deliver a masterclass performance and lead the Eagles to a 2-1 victory over Hougang United on Friday (July 22).
The Aire-sur-l'Adour-born native recently landed in Singapore after attending his brother's wedding and showed no sign of jet lag, as he delivered a goal and an assist for Sime Zuzul's winner in a pulsating second half.
Prior to the Frenchman's introduction, it had been a frustrating first half for the Eagles with the away side losing possession needlessly and hardly carving out clear cut chances in front of goal.
Instead, that half belonged to Hougang United ace striker Pedro Bortoluzo whose menacing presence upfront had caused problems for the Geylang International backline.
The Brazilian signing, who had plundered four goals in the past two matches, saw his goal flag for offside in the 17th minute. Bortoluzo then managed to make his effort count in the 34th minute when he diverted Kristijan Krajček's cross into goal.
With the Eagles struggling in the first period, the half-time break could not have come at a better time for head coach Noor Ali.
Seeing his team overrun by their opponents in midfield, the 47-year-old trainer threw Bezecourt into the fray to inject creativity from the centre of the pitch. That substitution sparked Geylang International to life with Bezecourt orchestrating play.
The former New York Red Bulls player created a scoring opportunity in the 63rd minute when his strike from an acute angle bounced off Hougang United goalkeeper Mukundan Maran.
With the loose ball above everyone's head, Zuzul quickly adjusted his lanky frame to execute a bicycle kick. It was a pity that the beautifully crafted move could not find its end product, with the shot flashing past the right of the goal frame.
Bezecourt, who was in supreme form that night, could not be denied in his next attempt in the 76th minute when he grabbed an equaliser for Geylang International.
From a corner, Takahiro Tezuka delivered a grounded pass to Bezecourt who was positioned outside the box. The attacking midfielder then used his left foot to sweetly strike the ball beyond the reach of Maran and into the net.
Since that equaliser, Geylang International were on the ascendancy and it looked like the in-form side were able to snatch a winner by the scruff of the neck.
It was Bezecourt who capped the Eagles' remarkable comeback with the Armenian Premier League winner turning provider two minutes from time.
His cross from the left found its way to Zuzul who then pounced the ball past the Hougang United custodian. The poacher's late effort sent the ever-boisterous Ultras Eagles into frenzied celebrations.
But the points could not be considered a done deal until the last second of the game, as the previous 3-2 away defeat against the Cheetahs at the same venue proved. A final act was required from Zaiful Nizam when he saved substitute Sahil Suhaimi's half volley from close range.
When the referee blew for the final whistle, high-fives and hugs were exchanged among the Eagles community for a job well done.
Geylang International's fourth win in six matches has turbo-charged the two-time league champions towards AFC Cup qualification, with the spot currently held by Tanjong Pagar United who are six points ahead. A victory over the Jaguars in the forthcoming fixture would move the Eagles ever closer to playing continental football next season.
Man of the match: Vincent Bezecourt - The former New York Red Bulls player came on at half time and inspired Geylang International to a remarkable comeback. He had hardly put a foot wrong throughout the second half and rescued the team from the jaws of defeat. Hopes are high for the marquee signing to keep up with his supreme form and drive the club up the league table in the final stretch of the campaign.