BG Pathum United extended their lead atop the Thai League table with a narrow victory over seven-time champions Buriram, with former Thunder Castle captain Andres Tunez making the decisive contribution.
With the Thai League on hold for international break, two matches which were originally scheduled for the first week back from lockdown were finally held. Bangkok United travelled to Ratchaburi for the early match, while the day’s headline encounter took place at the LEO Stadium between new league leaders BG Pathum United and seven-time champions Buriram United.
BG’s rise to the top this season has been fuelled by their excellent defense, led by former Buriram United captain Andres Tunez, along with Victor Cardozo and Irfan Fandi. The side also lined up with a midfield diamond featuring Thai internationals Sarach Yooyen and Thitipan Puangchan, joined by Sumanya Purisai and Daniel ‘Toti’ Garcia. Dusit Chalermsan’s now infamous pragmatic setup saw him start with just one recognised striker in Chenrop Samphaodi.
Buriram, usually content to remain compact and hit teams on the break during their tough away trips, were forced to play a possession game for the second week in a row. The side strangely left Israeli playmaker Gidi Kanuk out of the starting lineup for a second week running, and the midfield of Akbar Ismatullaev, Rattanakorn Maikami and Jakkaphan Kaewprom were unable to provide adequate service for the side’s forwards.
Many neutrals suggested that Buriram were lucky to come away with all three points from their trip to Chiangrai United last weekend, in a game which played out in a very similar vein, as Renato Kelic headed in a winner from a set-piece in the dying minutes.
However, the Thunder Castle would be on the receiving end this week, as Toti’s low, front-post cross bounded off Kelic and floated dangerously above the area – a lit match in the presence of Cardozo and Tunez. In an apt twist of fate, the latter would be the one to make contact, charging virtually unmarked into the six-yard box and leaping far above the competition to guide his header past Siwarak Tedsungnoen.
Elsewhere, Bangkok United’s woes continued with a 2-1 away loss against Ratchaburi FC. Both sides entered the game in desperate need of three points to revive their pre-lockdown form, which had waned since the restart. The hosts adopted a more defensive posture than normally expected, while Bangkok United retained their classic attacking setup.
The game was fairly level in the first half, with both sides getting chances to test the opposing defense. The hosts eventually struck just one minute before the break, as Philip Roller arrived in the box to latch on to the end of Lossemy Karaboue’s pass fire a shot which goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard couldn’t keep out.
Things went from bad to worse for Bangkok United when Pokklaw Anan received a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Kittipong Phuthawchueak, leaving the goalkeeper temporarily unconscious. The Dragons’ deputy keeper was replaced by Ukrit Wongmeema and rushed to the hospital, where he has since been treated, and later visited by Pokklaw.
Bangkok United faced an uphill battle after the break, chasing the game with ten men. In-form youngster Nattawut Suksum levelled the scoring with another smart striker’s finish, but his work would soon be undone with from the penalty spot as Philip Roller scored his second of the game.
The result marks a third consecutive defeat for a side which started the season with five wins from five, piling on the pressure for Mano Polking’s men. Meanwhile, Ratchaburi’s first post-lockdown win saw them climb back up into second place, five points behind BG Pathum.