The Malaysians and the Eagles shared the spoils in a seesaw match as the hosts equalised in the closing stages
Harimau Muda needed a late penalty from defender Syafiq Shalihin to rescue a point in a 2-2 draw against Geylang International on Thursday night at the Pasir Gudang stadium.
A lapse in concentration from the Geylang defence allowed Faizat Ghazli to pounce in the penalty box, but Harimau Muda’s lead lasted for only five minutes as Geylang captain Jozef Kaplan scored the equaliser on a rebound. Geylang took the initiative in the second half after Taufiq Ghani’s excellent header gave them the lead and they were threatening to run away with the game until substitute Maxsius Musa was fouled in the penalty box, allowing Syafiq to bury the penalty to share the spoils.
Both teams had been going through rough patches prior to the game, with the Young Tigers losing their last three consecutive S.League games, while the Eagles were winless in eight games in all competitions.
With results not going their way in recent times, the lack of confidence in play was apparent from both sides, resulting in a poor opening half hour. Both teams never really got going with mistimed passes killing any potential good moves, while the goalkeepers were rarely tested as each team struggled to carve an opening.
The game needed a goal to spark the teams to life, and it came eventually after 37 minutes when Harimau Muda scored against the run of play.
A cross from the left landed directly onto Faizat’s feet and he placed the ball past goalkeeper Takuma Ito. It was terrible defending from the Eagles, who didn’t even close the forward down, so much so that even Faizat himself looked surprised at the amount of time he had on the ball.
The goal spurred the Eagles to action though, and it took less than five minutes for them to get the equaliser. Jalal crossed for Stefan Milojevic, who headed the ball straight at goalkeeper Ramdhan Hamid. Ramdhan pushed the ball straight to Kaplan, who happened to be at the right place and at the right time to tuck the rebound home.
The Eagles then used the momentum from their equaliser and dominated the game in the beginning of the second period.
Their efforts were eventually rewarded with Taufiq’s header on the hour mark. A quick free-kick took the Harimau Muda defence by surprise and freed Nurhazwan Norasikin on the right. He laid the ball to stalwart Noor Ali, who sent a peach of a ball into the penalty box. Taufiq jumped the highest to meet it with an unstoppable header that went in off the post, with Ramdhan rooted.
Geylang then had a host of chances to extend their lead and threatened to run away with the game, with the Harimau Muda defence in sixes and sevens.
However, such is the nature of football that it was the hosts who scored the decisive goal, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.
Substitute Maxsius was tackled inside the penalty box and the linesman waved for a penalty, much to the dismay of the Geylang players who thought he went down too easily. Nevertheless, Syafiq stepped up to the plate and sent Ito the wrong way to haul his team level.
Both teams then tried to find the winner but in the end, a point apiece seemed the fairest result.