Match Review: Bezecourt Delivers the Goal to Snap Eagles' Winless Streak
Geylang International fans, fronted by the Ultras Eagles, were treated to a Bezecourt show at Our Tampines Hub with the home team edging Tanjong Pagar United 1-0 in a Singapore Premier League match on Sunday (June 26).
The Frenchman's exquisite lob in the 5th minute was enough to settle the contest, ending his team's 11-match winless run.
Bezecourt's performance was put under the spotlight in the lead-up to this game. Since his arrival before the start of this season, the former New York Red Bulls midfielder had not live up to his pedigree, with only one goal and one assist prior to the Tanjong Pagar clash.
With question marks over his form, Bezecourt who was pushed further upfield as a second striker from his usual central midfield role, came onto the pitch pumped up and silenced his doubters with a perfect response in the 5th minute.
From a mistake by Jaguars captain and right back Faritz Hameed who hesitated in pumping the ball to safety, the Eagles attacking midfielder was quick in challenging him for the ball.
From the resulting challenge, the ball flew up and landed towards his left feet, which he hit with a one-touch lob over the opposition goalie and into goal.
The 29-year-old who had European tournament experience under his belt, subsequently orchestrated a dominant Geylang International first-half performance, with the hosts clocking 12 shots to their opponents' two.
One of those shots was courtesy of his deep pass to Šime Žužul in the 44th minute. Unfortunately, his strike partner's powering shot was parried away by the Tanjong Pagar custodian.
Shortly after, Bezecourt even had a chance to cap the Eagles' fine first-half display with a goal. Huzaifah Aziz's lob from the centre found him at the far post, but he ballooned the effort from close range.
The title winner with Armenian side Alashkert could not make amends for that first-half miss when he spurned another golden opportunity in the 58th minute.
Tanjong Pagar right-back Aqhari Abdullah's misplaced pass went straight to a lurking Žužul. After the Croatian turned his man inside the box, he passed to an unmarked Bezecourt who had acres of space. But to everyone's surprise, the Aire-sur-l'Adour-born native missed with the goal at his mercy.
The Eagles almost had to pay for those misses when the Jaguars had a great chance to level in the 78th minute. A cross from Aqhari from the right found the head of the 1.90m Mirko Sugic just outside the six-yard box. But Zaiful Nizam bailed his side out of trouble with a reflex save.
With Geylang International squandering their two-goal lead against Young Lions five days before, the home supporters grew anxious on the team's ability to protect the slender lead and feared a déjà vu.
To the relief of the Eagles faithful, the team's resolute defending and time-wasting tactics in the late stages of the game secured an invaluable victory for the beleaguered club.
Though Geylang International's second win of the season does not improve their seventh position in the league, it has put them within touching distance of midtable sides Balestier Khalsa and Hougang United with a three-point separation.
If the Eagles can maintain their winning momentum starting from the Tigers clash this Saturday, there is still a chance for the former giants to achieve a respectable league standing this season.
Man of the match: Vincent Bezecourt - Geylang International head coach Noor Ali's decision to tweak Bezecourt's position as a second striker had paid off. His constant closing down of the opposition defence had not only forced an error from Faritz Hameed leading to a goal, but it had also unsettled the Jaguars defence throughout the first half. His tireless effort had resulted in the in-form Tanjong Pagar United displaying an ineffectual first-half performance. The only blemish to his outstanding play is his inability to finish off simple chances. With the Eagles' fortune tied to the form of the French midfielder, this aspect of his game needs more work on the training ground.