Geylang International rued their chances as they fell to a 3-2 defeat to Hougang United in a Singapore Premier League match on Friday evening (March 11).
On the back of a stunning 1-0 victory over Lion City Sailors, it seemed déjà vu in the early stages of the game with Geylang taking an early lead on the 4th minute. Hazzuwan Halim's cross from the right found Šime Žužul in the six-yard box. After chesting the ball to the ground, Žužul unleashed a fierce shot past Hougang keeper Ridhuan Barudin. The Eagles supporters were delighted to see their fan favourite opening his account for the club.
The Geylang forward line had plenty of chances in extending the lead and putting the game to bed. A notable opportunity was presented on the 57th minute when a shot in the box by Vincent Bezecourt sparked a frantic goalmouth action, with Huzaifah Aziz and Žužul following up with successive shots. Their efforts came for nothing with the ball going out for a goal kick.
These missed chances were to cost the Eagles dearly as the team found themselves trailing in the space of two minutes. On the 74th minute, Hougang midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin wiggled into the right side of the Eagles' penalty box and laid the ball to Cheetahs new signing Andre Moritz. The former Crystal Palace player took a shot which bobbled into Geylang International's net. The Eagles' defence was finally breached for the first time this season.
The game then took a cruel twist of fate when two ex-Geylang teammates in the Hougang team contributed to the penalty against the Eagles on the 76th minute. A sliding tackle by Huzaifah on Shawal Anuar resulted in the referee awarding the penalty, which was dispatched by Amy Recha.
With the game approaching injury time, the Eagles were determined not to leave the game empty-handed. The strong will from the players was rewarded on the 89th minute when Takahiro Tezuka found space in the right side of the Cheetah's penalty box and angled the ball past the Hougang goalie. The Eagles faithful erupted in jubilant celebration, feeling certain that a point had been salvaged.
However, that joy was cut short by the quick thinking of a Hougang forward. With Geylang players still celebrating the equaliser and returning to their positions, Moritz spotted Zaiful Nizam a few yards away from his goal and struck the ball from kick-off. Zaiful could only watch the ball fly over his head and land into the goal.
The defeat had not doused the spirit of the Eagles faithful as they commended the players' rugged display and urged them to fight on for the next away match against Tanjong Pagar United on March 19.
Man of the match: Takahiro Tezuka - The former Albirex Niigata player proves to be a midfield enforcer. He had made several crucial interceptions in the middle of the pitch and created attacking chances for his teammates. His eye-catching performance was capped off by the equalising goal.