By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
Reporting from the Pasir Gudang Stadium, Johor
Eagles captain Jozef Kaplan opened the scoring from the spot in the 42nd minute after his side were handed a questionable penalty, before he doubled their lead five minutes after the break with a firm header from inside the box.
A minute before the hour mark, Nurhazwan Norasikin put the result beyond doubt by adding a third with a cracking strike, before Kaplan raced through in the 84th minute to complete his hat-trick.
However, the victory was marred right at the death when the hosts pulled one back through a Faizat Ghazli header, before Geylang were reduced to ten men when Taufiq Ghani was issued a straight red.
After suffering defeats in their opening two games against Tampines Rovers and Balestier Khalsa, the Eagles headed into Sunday's clash desperate to get their season up and running.
But they nearly found themselves behind in the opening minute when Akmal Ishak made his way past Duncan Elias down the left, and floated in a cross that narrowly sailed over the head of Faizat.
11 minutes later, it was the visitors' turn to threaten when Kaplan received a pass from Taufiq and got the better of Ashmawi Yakin on the left before drilling a cross into the box. The ball fell kindly to Shotaro Ihata who looked set to fire away from six yards, only for Osman Yusoff to deny him with a superb block.
In what was turning out to an open, end-to-end encounter, Geylang goalkeeper Takuma Ito then produced a brilliant save in the 22nd minute to keep out a delightful effort by Maxsius Musa, who had cut in on his left and looked to curl one in on the edge of the box.
Eight minutes before the break, the hosts were presented another opportunity when a long ball bounced over the opposition defence and fell straight to Ridzuan Abdunloh, but despite having a clear path to goal, he opted for a first-time effort and shot straight at Ito.
But four minutes later, Geylang were handed the perfect chance to open the scoring in controversial circumstances. A floated ball from the left by Elias was cleverly flicked by Nurhazwan into the path of Ihata, who charged into the area before falling over under the combined challenge of Wan Ahmad Amirzafran and Osman.
Referee Ahmad A'Qashah immediately pointed to the spot, and after some brief protests by the Malaysian side, Kaplan stepped up and clinically drilled his spot-kick past Ilham Amirullah's despairing dive and into the bottom corner.
The 1-0 deficit at the break was slightly harsh on the hosts given they had more than matched their opponents for much of the opening 45, but just four minutes into the second half, they found themselves further behind.
Picking up possession down the right, Yasir Hanapi did well to create space inside the area by cutting back onto this left foot, before floating a cross straight to Kaplan, who planted a firm header into the roof of the net.
Three minutes later, Kaplan nearly turned provider when he latched onto a lovely flick by Ihata and raced down the left before playing in Taufiq, but the midfielder could only fire wide with only Ilham to beat.
Despite now trailing by two goals, Harimau Muda refused to let their heads dip and nearly pulled one back in the 55th minute, only to be denied by some splendid defending by the Eagles.
Racing through the middle, Akmal threaded a lovely ball through to Maxsius, who skipped past Ito and looked set to fire home until Kawakami dispossessed him with a terrific recovering challenge. The loose ball fell straight to Faizat who unleashed a fierce follow-up effort, but Ito got back to his feet in time and tipped it wide at full stretch.
But four minutes later, the contest was all but ended as Geylang added a third through a sumptuous strike from Nurhazwan, who pounced on a half-clearance and unleashed a cracking strike into the bottom corner, seconds after he was booked for taking too long to deliver the initial freekick.
With their hopes of a comeback now all but over, Harimau Muda's impressive enterprise gradually waned, allowing their opponents to see out the game in the remaining half-hour, although there was still time for Kaplan to complete his hat-trick four minutes, breaking free down the left to coolly slot past the onrushing Ilham.
Nonetheless, Harimau Muda did manage to get a deserving consolation in injury-time when Faizat met a cross with a header that looped over Ito and into the back of the net, before the Eagles' victory was soured even further when Taufiq received a straight red just before the final whistle.
Harimau Muda: llham Amirullah, Ashmawi Yakin, Wan Ahmad Amirzafran, Osman Yusoff, Asri Mardzuki, Azzizan Nordin (Akhir Bahari 76'), Hanif Dzahir (Nur Areff Kamaruddin 57'), Maxsius Musa, Faizat Ghazli, Ridzuan Abdunloh, Akmal Ishak (Yazid Zaini 68').
Geylang International: Takuma Ito, Delwinder Singh, Norihiro Kawakami, Khayrulhayat Jumat, Duncan Elias, Fabian Kwok, Yasir Hanapi (Khairulnizam Jumahat 87'), Taufiq Ghani, Jozef Kaplan, Nurhazwan Norasikin (Wahyudi Wahid 78'), Shotaro Ihata (Amy Recha 68').
Image courtesy of S.League