Matchday Five - Group H: Persija Jakarta 4-0 Johor Darul Ta'zim
Jakarta: Four goals from Marko Simic helped Persija Jakarta to a thumping 4-0 victory over Johor Darul Ta’zim at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Both teams came into the heavyweight AFC Cup clash knowing a win was needed to keep pace with Song Lam Nghe An at the top of Group H and the home side sent the raucous crowd into raptures with an early goal when Simic got on the end of a perfectly weighted cross from Riko Simanjuntak in just the eighth minute.
The Jakmania were still celebrating when Simic doubled the lead just four minutes later with a thunderous header from Rezaldi Hehanusa’s pinpoint free-kick.
The home side were in dream land after 20 minutes when Riko and Ramandi Lestaluhu combined beautifully down the right-hand side to set up Simic for his hat-trick, as the Indonesian side had JDT on the ropes.
The half time introduction of JDT midfielder Safiq Rahim helped the Malaysians stem the tide as they started to enjoy more of the play, creating a few chances of their own, none better than when Darren Lok made space for himself in the box only to see his shot blocked by Maman Abdurrahman.
Simic put the icing on the cake from the penalty spot in the 87th minute after Azrif Nasrulhaq took down Riko in the area.
The win moves Persija Jakarta to the top of Group H, ahead of Song Lam Nghe An based on their head-to-head record, ahead of their final group stage match in Singapore against bottom-placed Tampines Rovers.
JDT, meanwhile, must pick themselves up for a home match against Song Lam Nghe An that will determine if they progress to the knockout rounds.