Tanjong Pagar United claimed a 2-1 win over Global in the second leg of their RHB Singapore Cup semi-final to advance to the final 4-3 on aggregate.
Reporting from the Jalan Besar Stadium
Monsef Zerka got the Jaguars off to a dream start when he netted with a close-range header in the third minute, before netting a second from the spot two minutes before the hour mark.
The Morocco international did however score an own-goal in the 71st minute to hand the Philippine giants a lifeline, but Tanjong Pagar did enough in the end to hold on and book their place in the final, where they will meet either Home United or Balestier Khalsa.
Just three days ago in the first leg – a 2-2 draw at the Queenstown Stadium – the Jaguars were perhaps guilty of a sluggish start as they conceded as early as the seventh minute.
However, it was them who began the game in perfect fashion at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening as they took the lead after just three minutes; Zerka escaping his marker’s attentions to meet a right-wing cross with a neat header into the back of the net.
Stunned at going behind so early in the game, Global immediately found some energy and nearly mustered a response in the 13th minute; Joshua Beloya laying the ball off to Rufinho Sanchez, who rifled a left-footed shot just wide from the edge of the box.
Eight minutes later, it was Tanjong Pagar’s turn to threaten when a loose ball fell to Ismael Benahmed at the far post, but his dangerous low cross was hacked away from the danger zone by Paul Mulders.
Nonetheless, it was Global who were beginning to dominate possession and they had another chance a minute after the half-hour mark when Jeffrey Christiaens’ inswinging corner found Beloya, but he was only able to head over after mistiming his jump.
Christiaens, a perennial threat from dead-ball situations, then whipped in another excellent cross in the 41st minute to put the opposition defence under pressure again but this time, Delon Patrick Yao narrowly failed to connect after breaking free of his opponent’s clutches.
But a minute before the break, it could very easily have been 2-0 after a poor touch by Ange Guisso allowed Kamel Ramdani to nip in and race through, but the Frenchman spurned the excellent chance by firing straight at Roland Dely Sadia.
Although they enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening 45, Global did struggle to carve out a real clear-cut opportunity, but one such chance did arrive two minutes after halftime when Misagh Bahadoran broke free down the right and cut the ball back to Sanchez, only for Aurelien Herisson to keep out the Spaniard’s firm effort from eight yards with a fine reflex save.
The Jaguars then wasted another good chance in the 53rd minute when John Wilkinson created space for himself with a lovely turn before floating a cross onto the head of Walid Lounis, who climbed well but sent his glancing header inches wide of the top corner.
Still, they did double their tally on the night five minutes later when they were awarded a penalty after Benahmed broke free down the right and was brought down after skipping inside Jason de Jong, allowing Zerka to step up and net his second.
With two goals to his name, the 32-year-old nearly weighed in with an assist as well nine minutes after the hour mark when he lead a counterattack and picked out Benahmed with a lovely cross, but his strike partner wasted the opening by sending his first-time effort straight at Sadia.
And three minutes later, Zerka found the back of the net for the third time but on this occasion it came at the wrong end as he – in an attempt to head clear after Herisson had failed to gather a corner – ended up steering the ball into his own goal.
Having pulled one back, Global looked rejuvenated in their bid to equalise and force extra-time and a substitute Marwin Angeles nearly achieved that in the 80th minute when he pounced on a loose ball and fired a shot narrowly wide from 12 yards out.
Still, despite their best efforts, the United Football League outfit were just unable to break down the resilient opposition defence.
They did have one final chance in the 90th minute when Sanchez looked to have broken free after easing his way past Lounis, but just as he was about to pull the trigger, Herisson raced off his line to smother and seal Tanjong Pagar’s progress to the final, keeping alive their hopes of repeating their success in 1998.
Global: Roland Dely Sadia, Delon Patrick Yao, Ange Guisso, Jason de Jong (Jerry Barbaso 71’), Jeffrey Christiaens, Ben Starosta, Paul Mulders, Joshua Beloya (Marwin Angeles 63’), Aaron Altiche (Jeremy Theuer 82’), Misagh Bahadoran, Rufinho Sanchez
Tanjong Pagar United: Aurelien Herisson, Hafiz Osman, Walid Lounis, Anthony Aymard, Zahid Ahmad, Ahmad Latiff, John Wilkinson (Hafiz Nor 68’, Zulfadhli Emran 90’), Kamel Ramdani, Asraf Rashid (Hanafi Salleh 85’), Ismael Benahmed, Monsef Zerka.