The Moroccan striker led the way as his team managed to survive a second-half fightback to stay third in the table
Woodlands Wellington were denied the opportunity to climb to third in the S.League table as Monsef Zerka inspired Tanjong Pagar United to a 3-2 victory at the Woodlands Stadium on Sunday night.
The Jaguars took a 3-0 lead in the first half courtesy of a brace from their marquee signing and Kamel Ramdani, but the Rams gave Patrick Vallee a scare after the break as they stormed back to score twice and nearly grabbed the equaliser.
Salim Moin's charges looked clueless and disorganised in the opening stages of the match, with central defender Shariff Samat and captain Shahril Alias allowing their opponents acres of space for the opening goal.
John Wilkinson broke down the right flank and crossed to the far post for the unmarked Zerka, who converted the simplest of headers for his first goal of the night in the third minute.
While the Rams defense were still finding their feet, their attacking department had several chances of their own but failed to capitalise on them.
Moon Soon Ho was having cracks on goal from long range, while Theerawekin Seehawong’s attempt in the eighth minute ricocheted off the upright.
They were punished when the visitors doubled their lead on the half-hour mark as Ramdani connected with Hafiz Nor’s corner and sent it to the back of the net.
The third goal came seven minutes later for the Jaguars with Hafiz once again the provider from the corner as ex-Moroccan international Zerka benefited this time, heading home his second goal.
It seemed like the win was a forgone conclusion for Vallee and his boys, but the Rams were determined not to go down without a fight and clawed back in the second half.
Woodlands reduced the deficit 14 minutes after the restart when right-back Rosman Sulaiman hit a long ball to the edge of the penalty box. Despite being surrounded by a pack of Jaguars, Chang Jo Yoon managed to nick in a volley that boomed past custodian Aurelien Herisson.
Tanjong Pagar could have gone a few more goals behind if not for Herisson, who kept them in the match with his saves throughout.
The hosts got a second goal back deep into injury time as Chang blasted the ball home from the edge of the box, but it was too little too late as referee W. Ravisanthiran blew the final whistle soon after.