The semi-finals of the 2018 Thai League cup were played in Bangkok last night, with Chiangrai United taking on Nakhon Ratchasima at the Supachalasai National Stadium, while league leaders Buriram United faced off against Bangkok Glass at the Boonyachinda Stadium.
Chiangrai, who are currently defending FA Cup winners and remain in both domestic cup competitions, were in search of a revival after what has been an underwhelming league campaign. Nakhon Ratchasima, more commonly known as Korat, came into this encounter having secured their Thai League survival for next season and had generally been outperforming expectations for the entirety of the campaign.
However, the Northerners would strike the first blow when intense midfield pressing and strong hold-up play from Brazilian striker Bill offered space for winger Chaiyawat Buran, who arrived at the edge of the six-yard box and found the net with a one-touch finish, giving his side the advantage after just ten minutes.
Korat, who have typically set up to play defensive games under coach Milos Joksic, found it difficult to respond to going behind. However, they were finally given their chance in the 72nd minute when a foul from Tanasak Srisai inside the area gave Brazilian forward Leandro Assumpcao the chance to level the scoring from the spot, which he did not pass up.
The deadlock remained after 120 minutes of football, sending the game to penalties. Despite missing the first kick, Chiangrai roared back to advance to the final after the shoutout ended 4-2 in their favor.
Elsewhere, Buriram United fielded a full-strength team despite having crucial league matters to attend to at the weekend. However, despite their clear intentions to win this competition, the side went behind after a header from Surachat Sareepim put Bangkok Glass ahead.
It didn’t take long for the league leaders to hit back, as the side won a penalty when former Brazilian international Osvaldo was bought down in the box. His countryman, Diogo Luis Santo, made no mistake from 12 yards, and the two sides went into half-time on level terms.
Despite Buriram dominating for the majority of the second half, the Rabbits struck against the run of play when an explosive charge into the box by Thitipan Puangchan set up David Bala, who managed to sneak the ball past Siwarak Tedsungnoen and send his side through to the final.