Sukhothai arguably kept their AFC Champions League dream alive with their 2-0 win over Chiangrai United, as goals from John Baggio and Ibson Melo saw the Fire Bats overpower the defending champions.
One of this seasons’ surprise packages, Sukhothai managed an impressive 2-0 home win over defending Thai League champions Chiangrai United. The game was moved forward to account for Chiangrai’s trip to Doha for the AFC Champions League – but their place in that competition next season could be in jeopardy with this latest result.
Both sides are known to prefer playing on the counter, making for a very cagey first half. Sukhothai’s Peerapong Ruenin was the busier of the the two keepers for most of the match, but it was his team that went in to the break in front courtesy of another goal by the in-form John Baggio.
Now able to play their preferred game, the league’s most lethal counter-attacking team bided their time before releasing either Baggio or Ibson Melo to wreak havoc on the Chiangrai defense. They got their just reward four minutes from time, when Ibson managed to dribble beyond the onrushing Saranon Anuin and neatly tuck his finish into the empty net.
The result sees Sukhothai climb back into touching distance of the AFC Champions League spots, level on points with Ratchaburi with one extra game played. For the visitors, Chiangrai temporarily retain their third-place spot, which could be in jeopardy given that they have played 2 or 3 games more than some of their closest rivals.
The Beetles now only have one more game before they take off on their continental adventure, facing Muangthong United at the Singha Stadium next Wednesday. They will leave for Qatar with 14 games played, and will be watching eagerly to see if any teams manage to take their place before the end of the seasons’ first leg.
Meanwhile, Sukhothai host against Buriram when the league returns from it’s international break, and will be hoping to spring yet another surprise at the Thalay Luang Stadium.