Simic on fire as Persija Jakarta thrash Johor Darul Ta’zim

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Marko Simic was Persija Jakarta’s four-goal hero on Tuesday as they claimed a 4-0 triumph over Johor Darul Ta’zim in AFC Cup Group H.

It took the hosts eight minutes to break the deadlock at the Gelora Bung Karno; Riko Simanjuntak floating an excellent cross into the box while running at full tilt for Simic to nod into the back of the net.

Just four minutes later, Persija’s Croat forward used his aerial prowess to good effect once more, meeting Rezaldi Hehanusa’s left-wing freekick with a towering header into the bottom corner.

And, by the 19th minute, Simic had his second hat-trick of the campaign in the bag when Riko and Ramdani linked up well to create an opening; the latter cross for the striker to sweep home.

By now, the result was effectively over but – to add to Johor’s misery – they were reduced to ten men in the 78th minute after Adam Nor Azlin was sent off for a second bookable offence.

There was still one final moment for Persija to celebrate when Riko won a penalty after being brought down inside the box by Azrif Nashrulhaq, paving the way for Simic to grab his fourth goal by clinically converting past Izham with three minutes remaining.

The victory was enough to send the Indonesian giants top of Group H ahead of Song Lam Nghe An on head-to-head record, and they can guarantee their place in the knockout round with victory over bottom-placed Tampines Rovers on the final match day.

PERSIJA JAKARTA: Andritany Ardhiyasa, Ismed Sofyan, Jaimerson, Maman Abdurahman, Rezaldi Hehanusa, Sandi Darma Sute (Septinus Alua 88’), Ramdani Lestaluhu (Yan Pieter Nasadit 81’), Rohit Chand, Riko Simanjuntak, Novri Setiawan (Addison Alves 75’), Marko Simic.

JOHOR DARUL TA’ZIM: Izham Tarmizi, Aidil Zafuan, Hariss Harun, Junior Eldstal, Adam Nor Azlin, Afiq Fazail, Amirulhadi Zainal (Safiq Rahim 46’), Fazly Mazlan (Azrif Nashrulhaq 46’), Syafiq Ahmad (Ahmad Hazwan Bakri 66’), Nazmi Faiz, Darren Lok.