Two of Thailand’s traditional giants were in the spotlight on Saturday evening, as Muangthong United ended Ratchaburi’s unbeaten run while Buriram United returned to action for the first time since lockdown to narrowly see off Suphanburi.
Muangthong United came into Saturday’s early kickoff in desperate need of a win. Since the restart, the Kirin had suffered a loss on the road to Sukhothai before playing out a dull 0-0 draw in front of their own supporters against Samut Prakan City. Meanwhile, their opponents Ratchaburi were eager to re-ignite their pre-lockdown form after a 1-1 draw with Police Tero last weekend.
The two sides played out a fairly tense opening half hour, with defensive errors at both ends serving as indications that a goal could come soon. Uzbekistan international Sardor Mirzaev was the center of attention for the hosts, making his first post-lockdown start, as he constantly found space in dangerous areas and aimed to pick the killer pass.
Muangthong’s goal finally came in the 24th minute, as a ball over the top from Willian Popp exposed Ratchaburi’s high-line, letting Derley in behind to face down Ukrit Wongmeema. The Brazilian worked his way past the onrushing keeper, slotting the ball into an empty net to score Muangthong’s first goal since the restart.
The hosts began the second half on the back foot, as Ratchaburi looked to have levelled thanks to a strike from Lossemy Karaboue, which was chalked off due to a handball in the buildup. However, the Dragons eventually found their way through, when Steeven Langil’s cross from the right was turned in at the back post by Javier Patino in the 57th minute.
Unwilling to drop points at home once again, Muangthong roared back to net a winner in the 75th minute, as right-back Suporn Peenagatapho ventured into the opposing penalty area, breaking through on the right and firing a shot against the post, which ricocheted off the back of Ukrit and into the net.
Elsewhere, Buriram United took to the pitch for the first time since lockdown, after a false COVID-19 test which delayed their season by two weeks. The Thunder Castle featured a full complement of foreign players, as Renato Kelic, Marko Scepovic, Gidi Kanuk and Akbar Ismatullaev all took to the pitch against Suphanburi FC.
The hosts looked promising in the opening stages, but faced a stern test from one of the league’s most disciplined sides. Buriram squandered a chance to take the lead after just six minutes, with Supachok Sarachart’s cutback being missed by both Scepovic and Supachai Jaided, with the latter firing wide in front of a completely open goal.
Buriram’s lead eventually came with a stroke of luck, as Supachok once again bore down the Suphanburi penalty area from the left, skipping past Prasit Jantum while looking for an opening. His eventual effort bounced off Wasan Homsan, before rebounding off his own back to supposedly remain in play, according to a VAR check. The ball was then seized upon by Supachai, who nudged it on for Gidi Kanuk to score the game’s only goal with a half-volley past Patrick Deyto.
However, that was far from the last VAR incident of the day, as Korrakot Wiriya-udomsiri was caught for some dubious combination of man-handling and handball in the penalty area, giving the visitors a chance to equalise from the spot. Felipe Amorim’s initial shot was saved, before he supposedly set up Ratchanat Arunyapairot for the equalizer.
Unfortunately, Suphanburi’s number 30 was adjudged to have been offside, setting off another debate as to whether Felipe or Buriram’s Rattanakorn Maikami actually got the final touch on the ball before his finish. Ten minutes after the initial penalty dispute began, it eventually amounted to nothing for the visitors, as Buriram held on to their 1-0 lead.
Elsewhere, Port had to struggle to collect all three points from their visit to Trat FC. Interim coach Sarawut Treephan brought in striker Adisak Kraisorn as an attacking focal point, and selected the more attack-minded Charyl Chappuis as Go Suel-Ki’s partner in midfield.
Despite controlling the majority of possession, Port looked vulnerable to counter-attacks from Trat all game, and gave away a number of chances to the hosts. They were pegged back twice, as the leads given to them by Heberty Fernandes and Nitipong Selanon were cancelled out by Sittichok Phaso and Mustafa Azadzoy. Thankfully for the visitors, a goal from Tanasith Siripala in the dying minutes managed to save Port from what would have been a troubling result.
Lastly, Chonburi FC managed to bring Police Tero back down to earth with an impressive 2-1 away win. Brazilian striker Herlison Caion netted the opener from the penalty spot, before Worachit Kanitsribampen cancelled out Adisak Srikampang’s equaliser and sealed the game for the Sharks.
The spotlight now shifts to the top of the league on Sunday, as Bangkok United aim to defend their place at the summit against local rivals BG Pathum.