Geylang International could not build on their early lead over Lion City Sailors, as they wasted a hatful of chances before falling to two sublime free-kicks by Maxime Lestienne in a Singapore Premier League match on Sunday (May 7).
With their fourth defeat of the season, the Eagles dropped one spot to fifth with Balestier Khalsa leapfrogging them after upsetting Tampines Rovers 3-2 two nights earlier.
Struggling to keep the ball out of their net prior to this contest with an average of two goals conceded per game, the home side gave a good account in the opening exchanges as they soaked up the early pressure and kept their star-studded opponents at bay.
That moment to go on a counter was presented in the 10th minute when Yushi Yamaya dispossessed an oblivious Anumanthan Kumar near the centre circle.
Speeding away and urging his teammates to join him in the attack, Yamaya eventually slotted the ball to Iqbal Hussein, who nimbly evaded two markers before scoring his second goal in as many matches.
Energised by the opener, Geylang International took the game to Lion City Sailors and had good goalscoring opportunities before the interval. But neither the likes of Yamaya nor Iqbal were able to convert their chances after having the goal at their mercy.
Their profligacy almost came to haunt them at the stroke of half-time, had the upright not come to the rescue to deny a close-range header from Sailors newly signed centre-forward Bernie Ibini-Isei.
Not unexpectedly, the visiting team emerged from the break throwing men up front and laying siege on Hafiz Ahmad's goal. Still, the Eagles rearguard fought valiantly for a good part of the second half as they used their bodies to charge down goal-bound efforts.
Despite the gutsy fight from the men in green, it was not to be their night as their resistance crumbled in the final half-hour of the match.
Needlessly fouling in dangerous areas outside the penalty box proved to be Geylang International's undoing as freekick specialist Lestienne took full advantage of those deadball situations by sending two precise strikes past a hapless Hafiz.
Man of the match: Yushi Yamaya - The high-profile Japanese signing, recommended by City Football Group, showed more urgency and initiative in attack. One classic moment came in the 10th minute. Seeing Iqbal Hussein still off the pace as soon as the ball was won near the halfway line, it was his quick thinking to bark at his teammate to run into advanced position that led to the latter's opener. Yamaya could even add to his season's tally of five goals had he shown more composure in front of goal.