Diogo Downs Buriram while Muangthong Dispatch Sukhothai

BG Pathum United’s lead over the Thai League grew by a further three points over the weekend, as they managed to steal the spoils from Buriram’s Thunder Castle thanks to a decisive strike from their former superstar Diogo Luis Santo. Elsewhere, Muangthong put three past Sukhothai to climb back into the top four.

Despite going 10 points clear last Tuesday, BG Pathum showed no signs of taking their foot off the gas when they travelled to face seven-time champions Buriram United over the weekend. Even with the hosts underperforming their lofty expectations, this fixture remains one of the toughest on the Thai League calendar, and a hurdle of major symbolic significance for this years’ title favourites.

BG got the better of Buriram earlier in the season, when a header by former Thunder Castle captain Andres Tunez netted the game’s only goal from a corner. The story would be similar this time around, as another figure from the past returned to haunt them, only this time in their own back yard. Diogo Luis Santo, scorer of 101 goals in 105 games and a man so used to firing up the Chang Arena crowd with his sublime goals, finally scored one which would’ve plunged them into a silent despair had they been present. Latching on the end of an excellent lofted pass from Andres Tunez, the Brazilian forward’s first touch took him away from two defenders, before he generated enough power from his weaker foot while off balance to beat Siwarak Tedsungnoen at his near post. The muted celebration and eerie silence around the stadium did little justice to a moment which will likely go down in Thai League history.

The remainder of the game played out in the way one would expect of a clash between Dusit Chalermsan and Alexandre Gama. The latter, forced to chase a game for the second time in a week, once again made an array of changes to his forward line but was unable to break past a defense which has only shipped 9 goals in 19 games this season. Both sides showed excellent discipline in their defense and tactical acumen in their pressing, which served to cancel each other out. BG definitely had the better of the first half, but were desperately defending their lead by the end of the second. A magnificent double-save from Chatchai Budprom in stoppage time helped the Rabbits cling on to their lead and take all three points.

Their cause was massively aided by Police Tero, who managed a shock 2-0 victory over Port FC on the same evening. The Lions were also undone by their old faces, as former Port striker Dragan Boskovic opened the scoring after just eight minutes, hitting a first-time effort from the edge of the box after being teed up by another Klongtoei fan favorite in Arthit Boodjinda. The Thai striker then got himself in the scoresheet, netting the sucker punch in the second half, and opted not to celebrate out of respect for his former club. Ultimately, Port’s constellation of forwards, including the three ‘number 9s’ they started the match with, were unable to break past the Tero defense in a game which handed even more initiative to BG.

The two sides are now set to face each other in a ‘title-deciding’ clash at the LEO Stadium on Wednesday, which could either reduce the gap to 10 points or expand it to a stunning 16 depending on which way the result swings.

Elsewhere, Muangthong United climbed into the top four for the first time this season thanks to a 3-0 win over Sukhothai. The first half was a tightly contested affair, as the Kirin were thwarted by the visitors defense and goalkeeper Anurak Chompoopruk in particular, while they also succeeded in containing the Fire Bats’ attacking stars John Baggio and Ibson Melo. Derley missed a chance to put Muangthong ahead from the penalty spot in the 26th minute, but his countryman Lucas Rocha made amends nine minutes later, as the towering central defender turned in a loose ball from a smartly-taken corner kick to ensure the hosts went into the break in front.

The game turned significantly in Muangthong’s favour after the restart, as Wattanakorn Sawatlakhon teed up Derley for a second with an excellent cross in the 58th minute, before Wongsakorn Chaikultewin wrapped up the win in stoppage time, ending a impressive flowing move of 36 passes leading up to the goal.

Their ascent was enabled by the efforts of Prachap, who managed a stunning 1-0 victory over Chiangrai United at the Sam Ao Stadium in Sunday’s early kickoff. Willen Mota scored the game’s only goal in the 12th minute, heading in from a corner after a lapse in concentration from the visitors. The Beetles, who set up in a fairly defensive posture form the outset, struggled to shake off the lethargy and ultimately succumbed to the defeat, missing a number of close-run chances including one from the penalty spot, with Bill Rosimar failing to convert for the second game running.

Ratchaburi’s 2-1 defeat at Bangkok United was also welcome news for Mario’s Gjurovski’s men, as Heberty and Chananan Pombuppha gave the Angels a lead early in the first half. The visitors were missing both Lossemy Karaboue and Simon Dia in attack and struggled to create anything meaningful, rendering Philip Roller’s penalty a mere consolation for the Dragons.

Elsewhere, Nakhon Ratchasima’s winning run was extended to a stunning six games as they managed a 1-0 home win over Suphanburi. Chitchanok made the decisive contribution off the bench in the 62nd minute as the SwatCats retained their place in the standings. Meanwhile, Chonburi played out a frustrating 0-0 draw away at Trat FC while Samut Prakan City returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Rayong FC.

gianchansrichawla

Thai League fan and writer. Editor at Football Tribe Asia. University student.

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