Four-goal Simic hails fantastic result for Persija
Jakarta: Croatian forward Marko Simic was in dominant form as he scored all the goals in Persija Jakarta's 4-0 thrashing of former AFC Cup champions Johor Darul Ta'zim in Group H's Matchday Five tie.
Persija went into the Group H game at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium level on points with their opponents and having lost 3-0 in the first meeting in Johor Baru. However, a stunning hat-trick within the game's opening 19 minutes from Simic ensured the match was effectively over before the midway point of the first half.
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The powerful Croatian then added his fourth with five minutes remaining from the spot, adding to his treble against Tampines Rovers on Matchday Two.
"I want to say that after scoring four today, and having netted a hat-trick in this beautiful stadium already, I really feel at home here," said Simic.
"Today was a very important game for us to win, even better that we won 4-0, because we lost 3-0 in the first meeting. This is a fantastic result for the team."
AThe victory moves the Indonesian side into first place in Group H, level with Vietnam's Song Lam Nghe An on points but ahead on head-to-head record.
As a result, Persija have their destiny in their own hands. A win over already eliminated Tampines Rovers of Singapore on April 24 would secure first place regardless of Song Lam Nghe An’s result in their own final group stage tie against Johor.
"As I said before the competition began, our target is to go to the knockout stage," added Simic. "So we need to win the last game. One point might be enough, but it might not be, so we need to win.
"For tonight, though, I am a really blessed man. I am so happy, I want to say thanks to all my family, friends and the people who give me support. And to the fans - the Jakmania - thank you so much."
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