Norihiro Kawakami came back to haunt his former club Albirex Niigata, scoring twice to help Geylang International to a 2-2 draw at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening.
Nobody gave Kanan Vedhamuthu’s side a chance against the high-flying Japanese, who were second in the league before the game, two points behind leaders Tampines Rovers.
As expected, the Japanese side dominated possession right from the whistle.
And they almost took the lead after just two minutes when a mix up in the Geylang defence gave midfielder Hiroki Morisaki an open shot at goal in the penalty area. But the midfielder could only drag his shot wide.
Koichi Sugiyama’s side finally got their breakthrough in the 16th minute after some great play on the right flank, which found an unmarked Kazuki Sakamoto, who duly dispatched the ball into the net.
A clueless Geylang side finally came to life at the half-hour mark and created a couple of good chances.
Their best chance of the half came from captain Jozef Kaplan, who was fed through and nicked the ball past Albirex goalkeeper Hiroaki Hara, but the angle proved too much for the Slovak to find the net or his team-mates.
Eagles coach Kanan Vedhamuthu’s half-time team-talk prove effective as his side took the game to the Japanese after the restart.
And they could easily have turned the game around in the space of 10 minutes had Wahyudi Wahid taken his chances.
Twice the ball found the striker’s head in the box with the 24-year-old hitting the crossbar on his first attempt and narrowly missing the target on his second.
The Eagles’ efforts finally paid off with four minutes to go. Defender Norihiro Kawakami found the net with a stunning headed goal from a pinpoint delivery from Jalal into the box.
Just when you thought the Eagles would be delighted to settle for a draw, Kawakami had other ideas. With a minute left in the game, Norihiro popped up once again to poke home the ball after a clever pass by Kaplan.
With less than a minute to go and a shock win on the cards, the Eagles went to sleep and were punished after a Albirex cross caused mayhem in their defence as Khayrulhayat Jumat stumbled the ball into his own net.