Reigning Thai League champions Buriram United welcomed K-League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai FC on Wednesday night. The two sides head into the second matchday of the Champions League with completely different circumstances – Buriram United suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat away to Urawa Red Diamonds while Jeonbuk beat 2018 Chinese FA Cup winner Beijing Guoan 3-1.
Buriram head coach Božidar Bandović made a few, yet crucial, tactical switches by moving Sasalak Haiprakhon to his preferred left-wingback role instead of Thai international Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri. Veteran Suchao Nutnum also returned to the starting XI, adding steel in the centre of the park.
Jeonbuk, led by experienced striker Lee Dong-gook, controlled much of the possession and looked threatening with quick, direct passing. The home side though were happy to sit back, waiting for their counter-attacking opportunity.
And it was early on in the second half when Buriram took the lead. Jeonbuk forward Ricardo Lopes ran into trouble in the hosts congested defence line before holding midfielder Ratthanakorn Maikami picked up the loose ball before playing a wonderful through ball to Pedro Júnior. Surrounded by 5 Jeonbuk defenders, the Brazilian played a perfectly weighted pass to the onrushing Supachok Sarachat who fired in a powerful left-footed shot. Goalkeeper Song Beom-Keun positioning was questionable in this situation, but it should take nothing away from the youngster’s tidy finish.
Ricardo Lopes rattled the crossbar in the 68th minute, but that was as close as the Green Warriors would get as the game finished 1-0 it finished to Buriram United.
The Thunder Castle now jumped to 2nd in Group C with 3 points, ahead of Jeonbuk on head-to-head. Urawa remain on with 4 points after a 0-0 in Beijing. This sets up for an interesting prospect for the next matchday, as Jeonbuk must prepare themselves for a tough away day at the Saitama Stadium. While Beijing Guoan, craving their first victory, will visit the Chang Arena for the first time. Victory over the Chinese side is a must for Buriram, as registering six points after three games will put them in a strong position. Despite it still being early days, this fixture could be their ticket to the next round.
Only time will tell whether this result was just a one-off. But If Buriram United can keep their home form strong, as they always do in this competition, they can dream of making it out of the group.