Geylang International earned a well-deserved 1-1 draw against Tanjong Pagar United through a Hazzuwan Halim's spectacular shot in a Singapore Premier League match on Saturday evening (March 19).
The attacking-minded Jaguars were uncharacteristically quiet in front of goal during the opening stages of the game, as a well-marshalled Eagles defence snuffed out their opponents' attacking moves.
In fact, it was Geylang International midfielder Vincent Bezecourt who had three chances inside the box early on. However, his shots failed to trouble the Tanjong Pagar keeper.
The away team had their best opportunity to go ahead on the 26th minute when a free kick from Takahiro Tezuka from outside the box was tipped away by Zharfan Rohaizad.
Those missed chances from the Eagles allowed time for the Jaguars' attacking unit spearheaded by Japanese forward Reo Nishigushi to establish their presence in the game.
Geylang International were nearly punished as the match approached half-time. Huzaifah Aziz's miskick gifted the ball to Nishigushi just outside the box. The Tanjong Pagar frontman then made a diagonal run into the box and took a shot which came off the frame of the goal and into the safe hands of a relieved Zaiful Nizam.
Nishigushi continued to prove a handful for the Eagles backline after the half-time break. The Jaguars' star player finally found a breakthrough on the 63rd minute courtesy of a misjudgment by the usually-reliable Abdul Qaiyyim in dealing an aerial ball.
Geylang International were unfazed by the setback and refused to throw in the towel. That determination in not giving up the fight was paid off by a local double act on the 74th minute.
Fareez Farhan received the ball from inside the Eagles box and ran the length of pitch towards goal. His pass then found its way to Hazzuwan whose strike beautifully went in off the left frame of goal, to loud cheers from the Geylang faithful.
That magical equaliser against the surprise league leaders inches Geylang International closer to the table summit on four points off the top with a game in hand. A tough fixture against a free-scoring Tampines Rovers awaits.
Man of the match: Ahmad Syahir - In a game where the big-name foreign players struggled to find success in front of goal, it is the second-half substitute's lively performance that caught attention. He was actively linking up plays in the Eagles' attacking half and even troubled the Jaguars keeper with a shot on target.