Buriram United showed flashes of their devastating best on Sunday evening as they dispatched Sukhothai 3-0 at the Thalay Luang Stadium, while Ratchaburi also earned three vital points to bring them a big step closer to AFC Champions League qualification.
The seven-time Thai League champions have been in the news all week, as reports suggest that they have been courting a new set of foreign players for head coach Alexandre Gama. The Brazilian tactician added credence to the speculation by leaving all of his foreign players on the bench on Sunday, save for central defender Renato Kelic.
However, even without their imported talents, Buriram looked dominant from the first whistle, controlling possession and winning the ball back quickly with their energetic press. Surapong Kongthep’s side expectedly sat deep and looked to counter, but struggled to create any meaningful chances against the resurgent Thunder Castle. The game’s ‘vintage Buriram’ feel was capped off by an excellent performance by 32-year-old Jakkaphan Kaewprom, who starred for Gama’s previous title-winning sides in 2014 and 2015.
Buriram missed a number of chances to take lead in the opening stages, but were consistent in applying pressure and keeping Fire Bats’ defense extremely busy. The opener finally came thanks to an excellent solo effort from Kevin Ingreso, who drove into the final third on the counter and tucked the ball away at the far post with his left foot. Supachai Jaided doubled their lead after the break, atoning for a couple of glaring misses in the first half, and Rattanakorn Maikami added a finishing touch in second-half stoppage time with the side already cruising.
This result seems to have greatly jeopardized Sukhothai’s AFC Champions League hopes, as they now find themselves three points behind Ratchaburi with one more game played. The Dragons, now coached by Milos Joksic, took just five minutes to open the scoring at home against Samut Prakan City as Yannick Boli got on the end of an excellent flick from Javier Patino and slid the ball past Izwan Mahbud.
Despite dominating possession, Samut Prakan failed to threaten their hosts in any meaningful way and lacked a deadly finisher in the final third. Barros Tardeli stepped up to convert a penalty for the Sea Fang in first half stoppage time, but his effort was soon cancelled out by a spot-kick from Philip Roller and a second from Boli to round out a 3-1 victory.
League leaders BG Pathum United remained untroubled by the action below them and extended their unbeaten run with a 2-1 win against Chonburi. The Rabbits were in no mood to take their foot off the gas, and found the net 13 minutes in thanks to an excellent turn and strike from Chenrop Samphaodi.
Chonburi came close to levelling just before the half-hour mark through a Kritsada Kaman free kick, but were ultimately undone by a brilliant strike from Sumanya Purisai just before the break. BG were always unlikely to slip after going in front, and the league’s meanest defense held firm to ensure Dragan Boskovic’s 76th minute header was merely a consolation goal for the Sharks.
Elsewhere, Totchtawan Sripan emerged with a win in his first league game as Bangkok United boss with a 3-2 away win against Trat FC. Sanrawat Dechmitr netted the goal of the weekend with an excellent volley outside the box, and a second from Brenner Marlos ensured the Angels were comfortably ahead by half time. Goals from Jonathan Reis and Mongkol Tossakrai made the visitors struggle for the points, but Bangkok ultimately scraped out the victory for their new coach.
In the weekend’s other games, Muangthong were held to a 1-1 draw with Nakhon Ratchasima while Rayong FC managed to collect a point on the road against Prachuap.