Sergio Suarez returned from injury to provide the inspiration for Port FC and ensure they stayed four points clear at the top of the Thai League (T1) with a 3-2 victory over Suphanburi.
The Spanish midfielder created all three goals, including a slide-rule pass for Dragan Boskovic’s late winner.
Elsewhere, Mario Gjurovski came off the bench to hit his first goal of the season, earning a point for Muang Thong United in a 2-2 draw at PTT Rayong, while Buriram United and Bangkok United both picked up important victories.
Here are three things we saw on T1 Matchday Nine.
- Super Sergio keeps Port on top
With a number of key players out injured or suspended, the visit of Suphanburi was always going to be a test for Port FC but the return of Suarez was perfectly timed and he wasted no time in reminding fans of his value to the team.
While Jonatan Reis and Cleiton Silva tormented a backline that finally looked to be sorely missing David Rochela, Suarez ensured that there were enough scoring opportunities at the other end to give the Port Lions another three points.
Silva had let the hosts of the hook when he squandered a great opportunity to put the War Elephant 2-0 up just before half-time and Port took full advantage.
Photo credit: Port FC
Bordin Phala again played a big part for Port, scoring twice to make it four in his last three games. Bordin has finally been given a run of matches in the absence of the injured Nurul Sriyankem and he is ensuring that Nurul will find it tough to get back in the side.
A title winning team finds a way to win games like this and with four wins on the trot, Port are the clear front runners in what is becoming an intriguing season.
- Mario magic lifts Muang Thong off the bottom
Two goals from PTT Rayong’s Ariel Rodriguez looked like condemning Muang Thong United to a fifth straight defeat as the game entered its final 10 minutes.
In what has been a shockingly poor start to the season for the Kirins, it was left to a club legend to come off the bench and secure the point that takes them off the bottom of the table on goal difference.
Photo credit: Muang Thong United
Mario Gjurovski has scarcely had a look-in since returning to Muang Thong after three years away, despite the sides struggles on the pitch. But the former Macedonia international engineered the move that ended with him finding the net from the edge of the box.
Gjurovksi’s celebrations were typically theatrical as his shirt came off and he ran to the bench. While it was another disappointing result for Muang Thong, the 33-year-old playmaker’s intervention may just re-energise the club and spark a recovery.
- Buriram get a helping hand
It took a very late Pedro Junior penalty to get Buriram United back to winning ways as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Ratchaburi.
The Dragons were the better team in the first half, with Steeven Langil’s strike giving them an early lead. Buriram’s struggles in front of goal continued and they needed a Jirawat Thongsaengphrao own goal to level the score before the penalty presented Pedro with his chance.
The penalty award caused much controversy in a game in which the referee seemed to whistle at every opportunity to give Buriram a free-kick. Philip Roller certainly handled but he appeared to be just outside the box.
In addition to several other questionable decisions that went against them, Ratchaburi understandably felt hard-done by as they came within minutes of taking a point against the champions.
Buriram ensured they stayed within four points of Port FC with a game in hand but they will need to depend on more than own goals and marginal penalty decisions if they are to win yet another title.