Ciolacu bares his fangs for Warriors
New Romanian striker nets hat-trick as Home throw away two-goal lead
|(Andrei Ciolacu 22-pen, 64, 68, Jordan Webb 76)
|(Stipe Plazibat 6, Iqram Rifqi 15, Hariss Harun 35-pen)
He hails from the same country as Count Dracula.
And Warriors FC's new Romanian striker Andrei Ciolacu certainly made himself a pain in the neck for Home United last night, when he scored a hat-trick to spark a thrilling second-half comeback that sealed a superb 4-3 win for his team.
The Warriors had gone into the break 3-1 down in The New Paper League Cup Group A match at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
Warriors coach Razif Onn was delighted with the contribution of his new hitman, who was a mid-season signing from ASA Targu Mures in the second tier of Romanian football.
"Andrei proved his worth tonight," Razif said of his 24-year-old striker.
"You can see how difficult it was for Hariss (Harun, Home defender and national team vice-captain) to challenge him.
"He kept trying to bring him down, but Andrei is a strong guy.
"Even from 20 or 30 metres out, he will have a try at goal, he also does it in training... I'm glad he is with us and hopefully he can continue scoring more goals."
The night got off to a bad start for the hosts when Home hotshot Stipe Plazibat opened the scoring after just six minutes.
Nine minutes later, the Protectors doubled their lead, after Prime League winger Iqram Rifqi slotted home following good work by Faris Ramli.
Ciolacu reduced the deficit in the 22nd minute from the penalty spot, but Home restored their two-goal cushion before the break with a spot-kick of their own, which Hariss coolly dispatched in the 35th minute.
Home appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win in the second half, and coach Aidil Sharin even felt confident enough to take off star striker Plazibat for an early break.
But Ciolacu had other ideas.
In the 64th minute, he stole in at the near post to meet a long throw-in, and acrobatically finished from an improbable angle.
Four minutes later, Ciolacu sealed his hat-trick - albeit with some luck - when his hopeful shot from distance squirmed through Home goalkeeper Rudy Khairullah's legs and into goal.
With the momentum firmly with the Warriors, they clinched the winning goal when Jordan Webb tapped home from close range in the 76th minute.
The sending-off of Warriors winger Fazli Jaffar for a second bookable offence in the 79th minute gave Home some hope of an equaliser, but it never came.
Said Aidil: "After we conceded the two soft goals (in the 64th and 68th minutes), I started to wonder what was happening.
"We were playing well and holding the ball - if you look at the possession stats, we would have had more of the ball.
"But, after those two goals, the boys' heads were down."
- WARRIORS: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Emmeric Ong, Hafiz Osman, Kento Fukuda, Ho Wai Loon (Zulfadli Zainal Abidin 92), Poh Yi Feng (Firdaus Kasman 82), Shaiful Esah, Fadhil Noh, Jordan Webb, Fazli Jaffar, Andrei Ciolacu
- HOME: Rudy Khairullah, Juma'at Jantan (Khairul Syari 38), Hariss Harun, Afiq Yunos, Sufianto Salleh, Izzdin Shafiq, Haziq Azman, Iqram Rifqi (Syed Firdaus 68), Faris Ramli, Sirina Camara, Stipe Plazibat (Khairul Nizam 61)