Southeast Asia Thailand

Defending Champions Buriram Back On Top

Obb Deewajin

Football Tribe Thailand


Buriram United reclaim top spot in the Thai League with a surprisingly comfortable victory over title rivals Port, while Bangkok United’s win helps them keep pace with the leaders and Alexandre Gama fails to get his Muangthong side off to a winning start in Sunday’s frantic action.

Vander Luiz helped Bangkok United to a 2-0 win over Ratchaburi FC, holding on to their coveted third place spot. This is the Brazilian’s first league start since suffering an injury in March. The Angels really miss his creativity and technique to get away from tight spaces. His return came at the perfect time, with Nelson Bonilla away on international duty with El Salvador.

Elsewhere PTT Rayong bounced back from midweek’s 5-0 thumping by Buriram United with an away win over Chiangmai FC.

Alexandre Gama’s Muanthong United endured their ninth defeat of the season away to rivals Chonburi FC. The former Thai U23 head coach also coincidentally lost his first visits to the Chonburi Stadium as Buriram United and Chiangrai United head coach respectively and was unable to break the curse on his Muangthong debut.

The Kirin now slump to the bottom of the table due on goal difference with just 11 points collected from 14 matches.

However, despite the significance of those matches, all eyes were on the PAT Stadium as defending champions Buriram United took on league leaders Port FC.

The visitors started the game with great intensity and won a penalty early on when centreback Todsapol Lated clumsily stuck out his leg, bringing down Pedro Junior in the process. Center-back Andres Tunez converted the spot kick, just as he did against PTT Rayong on Wednesday, giving Buriram the lead after three minutes.

The Thunder Castle sat deeper after taking the lead, waiting to counter with Pedro Junior’s pace lurking on the last line of defence. The home side were allowed more possession but still pretty much uninspiring in the final third. David Rochela failed to replicate Go Seul-ki’s passing range from the base of midfield which forces attacking midfielder Sergio Suárez to come deep more often, moving away from the danger area. Buriram’s control over the game lasted until the half-time whistle, and they went into the break ahead.

Jadet Meelarp’s men came out a different team and equalize straight away in the second half. Suárez got his head on Bodin’s near-post cross, sending the packed stands into a frenzy.

Unfortunately for the home fans, Pedro Junior had other ideas and won his side back the lead with a fantastic solo effort – picking up the loose ball on the left, cutting inside and rifling in a shot to the far-post. Moments later, Buriram United extend their lead Port keeper Watchara Buathong parried a near-post header onto the path of defender Chitipat Tanklang, who headed the ball back into an empty net.

Maybe Watchara could’ve coped with the threat better by tipping the ball over the bar instead of pushing it into the center of the goal. And maybe Chitipat might’ve not been given a free header if Dragan Boskovic, the striker who was tasked with marking the defender, wasn’t caught ball watching.

But that didn’t matter, as Buriram United led 3-1 and it ended that way. This was Port FC’s first home defeat of the season and, to make it worse, means that Buriram United overtake them as league leaders by just a single point. Bozidar Bandovic’s men now have the opportunity to finish as the first leg of the season on top if they beat new boys Chiangmai FC back home at the Chang Arena next Saturday. On the other hand, Port FC must not let this setback affect their momentum; but will have to do so in a slightly more challenging tie when they travel to 4th place Samut Prakan City.