Zerka bags hat-trick as Jaguars maul Warriors

The French-born Moroccan striker took his tally to four goals in his first two games as the home side crumbled against a rampant Tanjong Pagar team despite taking an early lead
By Khalis Rifhan

It was a scoreline no one saw coming, as Warriors FC were taken apart in a 6-1 defeat by visiting Tanjong Pagar United at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Wednesday night.

Despite opening the scoring at the Warriors Arena, things soon went downhill for the Warriors as Tanjong Pagar rampaged back to condemn the home side to their second-heaviest ever league defeat.

Jaguars goalkeeper Aurelien Herisson pulled off a spectacular save from close range in the opening stages to deny Sufian Anuar after he was set up by Erwan Gunawan, as the Warriors started strongly.

There was nothing Herisson could do in the 10th minute though when Sufian pounced on a loose ball to give the hosts the lead.

However, the celebrations were short-lived as the Jaguars struck back a minute later as Ismael Benahmed found space down the right flank to cross for Kamel Randani to sweep home the equalizer.

The visitors then took the lead four minutes later as Hafiz Nor easily beat left-back Zakir Samsudin down the right and his cross took a slight deflection before falling nicely for Monsef Zerka to bury his shot for a 2-1 lead.

The game was soon put beyond the reach of the Warriors in the 29th minute as 19-year old Zakir was once again culpable, allowing Hafiz to play the ball to Ismael down the right side. The latter was allowed space and time to cross for Zerka, who planted a firm header past a bewildered Hassan Sunny in goal.

Defender Anthony Aymard then headed in a corner from Hafiz near the half-hour mark to give his side a commanding 4-1 lead as they went into the break.

The Jaguars did not let up in the second half, as the effervescent Hafiz sent in a perfect right-wing cross for Randani to half-volley home his second of the game to make it 5-1 in the 52nd minute.

The match was suspended two minutes later by referee Irwan Samsuddin as the lightning alert warning system was activated before resuming after almost an hour, much to the delight of Jaguars coach Patrick Vallee.

The away side continued to search for a sixth goal and was rewarded ten minutes from time, when Zerka dispossessed Marin Vidosevic at the edge of the box before coolly lifting the ball over the on-rushing Hassan to complete his hat-trick.

It was the French-born Moroccan striker’s fourth goal in two games and that was the end of the scoring on a goal-laden night, as the Warriors succumbed to their worst-ever S.League defeat after a 8-1 hammering by Home United in 2004.

Tanjong Pagar will next welcome Harimau Muda at the Queenstown Stadium on March 5, while the Warriors will travel to Padang, Indonesia for their AFC Cup Group E opener against Semen Padang on the same night.