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Match Review: Eagles Return to Fourth with 4-2 Victory Over Tigers

Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

Geylang International strengthen their bid for a top-four finish as they comfortably dispatched Balestier Khalsa 4-2 at the Toa Payoh Stadium on Friday evening (October 14).

With Tanjong Pagar United downed by Lion City Sailors in another match played simultaneously, the Eagles leapfrog the Jaguars to fourth spot, leading their nearest rivals by a point.

The winning margin could have been wider for the away side had the players been more composed with their other 23 goal attempts.

Despite just recovering from a groin injury that was picked up in last weekend's match against Tanjong Pagar United, Sime Zuzul showed no signs of rustiness as he opened the account for Geylang International with his 17th league goal in the 21st minute.

From a set-piece by Vincent Bezecourt, Takahiro Tezuka headed the ball into the box from the left, which was then swept in by the Croatian poacher.

Balestier Khalsa then found themselves back into the game in the 40th minute courtesy of a defensive error from Faizal Roslan.

The Eagles centre-back was unlucky to have head the ball straight at the Tigers' most creative player, Ryoya Taniguchi. All was left to do for the Japanese midfielder was to take a touch off his upper body before striking the ball past Zulfairuuz Rudy.

Geylang International mustered an immediate response just before the half-time break.

Ilhan Noor, a right-back by trade, escaped the attention of his markers and was lurking right outside the goalmouth during a build-up to an attacking move. When the opportunity was presented to him through a left-sided cross by Hazzuwan Halim, the promising youngster rose the highest and diverted the ball into goal.

In the ensuing second period, Balestier Khalsa could not stop an irrepressible Tajeli Salamat - who was already unsettling their defence with his crosses - from bulging their net with a brace.

The first of his double arrived four minutes after the restart when the right wing-back collected Zuzul's layoff on the edge of the penalty box and drilled the ball diagonally into the far corner of the goalpost.

As the game entered into added time, Tajeli found the net again in somewhat similar fashion to his earlier goal, thanks to an assist from Tezuka.

The Eagles then momentarily took their foot off the pedal which let Daniel Goh score the Tigers' consolation goal in the match's final moments.

Nevertheless, it was still a well-deserved victory for the visitors, who overcame the bumpy surfaces of the pitch and controlled the game from start to finish.

But their finishing on display has to be further worked on, in order for them to have any chance of grinding a positive result against the newly crowned Singaporean champions, Albirex Niigata, with the battle for fourth up for grabs in the league's final round of fixtures.

Man of the match: Tajeli Salamat - The right wing-back, with the support of the overlapping runs of Ilhan Noor, was a menacing presence on the right flank throughout the proceedings. Not only Tajeli had acres of space to whip in crosses from the right which unnerved the Balestier Khalsa backline, but he was also given plenty of time to finish his two strikes from the edge of the opponents' penalty area. A mid-season loan signing from Lion City Sailors, his MoM performance presents another convincing case for the club management to make his deal a permanent one next season.

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